• January 5, 2011

The Conviction of several Spanish police officers for the torture of ETA suspects detained after the Madrid Airport bombings in 2008 undermines the veracity of subsequent proceedings which resulted in the two suspects being jailed.

The conviction of the policemen also indicates that concerns about torture in Spanish police stations and prisons voiced over several years by the United Nations and other rights groups are still valid today.

(In March the Celtic League cited the potential for ill-treatment faced by a Basque detainee whose extradition from the UK was sought – see link):


The two Basques Mattin Sarasola and Igor Portu were beaten, kicked and threatened with death by drowning. Igor Portu was so badly injured he was hospitalised for several days.

Originally fifteen officers were put on trial and four were convicted.

The police officers were sentenced to up to four and half years in prison a sentence which hardly sends a signal to others within the Spanish police that such behaviour is unacceptable. The verdict also calls into question the efficacy of those at senior levels in the Spanish police service.

In addition the verdict reinforces concerns about torture within Spain’s police and prison system and the case also illustrates the danger of countries returning suspects detained outside Spain to that jurisdiction.

In recent years detainees in both the UK and France have cited concerns about possible torture if returned to Spain to face charges. This case shows that such concerns are well founded.

The Celtic League will be writing to governments that have been (or in the future are) involved in extradition proceedings involving Basques being returned to Spain citing this case as an example of the propensity for torture and ill treatment within the Spanish justice system.

Related link here to item on this story on BBC World News:


J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


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