New ETA blast —as UN reviews Spanish “anti-terror” measures

Spanish ministers and royalty attended the funeral of a Civil Guard killed in a May 14 car bombing blamed on ETA at a barracks in Legutiano, near the Basque city of Vitoria. Four officers were hurt. (BBC, May 15) Meanwhile, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Martin Scheinin, concluded an eight-day mission to Spain to review that country’s practices in combating terrorism. While the report issued at the end of the trip praised certain “best practices” in safeguarding the rights of suspects, it also raised concerns about abuses. (UN News Centre, May 14) An excerpt:

a) Article 571 of the Penal Code, defining the objective elements of terrorist crimes, is in the Special Rapporteur’s view based on a proper understanding of the phenomenon of terrorism and of the requirement of legality.
b) Other provisions of the relevant section of the Penal Code (articles 572-580), including the reference to “any other crime” in article 574, the notion of “collaboration” in article 576 and the amended provision of article 577 on street violence, however, carry the risk of a “slippery slope”, i.e. the gradual broadening of the notion of terrorism to acts that do not amount to, and do not have sufficient connection to, acts of serious violence against members of the general population.

The Special Rapporteur calls the attention of Spanish authorities to the latter finding, especially because of the existence of multiple factors that in the context of Spain highlight the risk of a “slippery slope”: the classification of crimes as terrorist ones triggers the application of incommunicado detention, replaces the jurisdiction of the territorial criminal court by the jurisdiction of the Audiencia Nacional, a specialized court with nationwide jurisdiction, and results in aggravated penalties and often also modifications in the rules related to the serving of sentences.

See our last post on the Basque struggle.

  1. Another ETA blast
    From AFP, May 19:

    MADRID — A booby-trapped van exploded in the early hours of Monday in the northern Basque town of Getxo following a warning call from the separatist group ETA, causing no injuries, Spanish media reported.

    The bomb exploded on the boardwalk of the affluent seaside town located just outside of Bilbao at 00:50 am (2250 GMT Sunday) causing “significant” damage to nearby buildings, public radio RNE reported.

    Roughly an hour earlier a man who claimed to speak in the name of ETA called the regional traffic department DYA to warn that a booby-trapped van would explode in the area at that time, it said citing local government officials.

  2. Basque mayor arrested
    From Reuters, May 9:

    Basque separatist rebels ETA claimed responsibility for four bomb attacks over the past two months in a communique received by Basque nationalist newspaper Gara on Friday.

    The rebels…said they were behind the attacks on two offices run by Spain’s governing Socialists and two television transmission stations.

    No one was hurt in the blasts, which had already been blamed on ETA by the authorities. The last fatal attack the rebels claimed was the assassination of a former local politician on March 7, two days before a Spanish national election.

    In Friday’s communique, ETA referred to the recent arrest of mayor of the town of Arrasate for links to the rebels and accused the government of “displaying its neofascist essence without any attempt at concealment,” Gara said.

    From EiTB, April 20:

    Spain’s High Court Public Prosecutor asked for the provisional and unconditional imprisonment of the Mayor of Arrasate/Mondragón Ino Galparsoro. She is accused of collaboration with armed group, legal disobedience and breaking of preventive measures.

    Official sources pointed out that they still have to confirm if she is also accused of integration in armed group. They will reveal this information after they receive a police report they are waiting for.

    The mayor has been transferred to High Court cell, where she must stay until Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón announces his decision, this evening at about 19:00 (local time GMT+2).