“I was naked while doing squats and they were pinching my nipples. They touched my vagina twice. I was doing push-ups and they put their cigarette smoke into my bag and I couldn’t breathe. They covered my mouth and mouth with their hands. I couldn’t breathe. At that time they would ask me questions and if I didn’t answer with some speed they would throw me against the wall or hit me or even throw me on the floor and sit on me and I couldn’t breathe. ” This is the statement of Saioa Aguirre, one of the eight people accused of being part of “ETA’s legal front, Halboka” in the trial that is taking place these days in the National High Court.
The arrests of the case known as summary 13/13, took place by order of the then judge of the National Court and current Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, in Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa in 2010. Former prisoners and lawyers of people accused of belonging to ETA.
In total, the Prosecutor’s Office requests 86 years in prison for crimes ranging from belonging to ETA to collaboration with an armed organization for the defendants Arantza Zulueta, Jon Enparantza, Iker Sarriegi, Julen Zelarain, Naia Zuriarrain, Saioa Agirre, Nerea Redondo and Juan Mari Jauregi, accused of, supposedly, belonging to “the network that controlled ETA prisoners.” While the defense affirms that the process “was born flawed of nullity” because “there are irregularities in the records, illegal wiretapping, evidence of torture and ill-treatment, and violation of the fundamental right not to be tried twice for the same cause.”
The main defendants are attorneys Zulueta and Enparantza. Specifically, the prosecutor asks for 19 years in prison for the lawyer Arantza Zulueta, who was already sentenced in 2019 “as head of the coordinating body of the prison front”: 12 years for integration into a terrorist organization as a leader and another 7 for depositing weapons and explosives. For Enparantza, the Prosecutor’s Office requests 12 years for integration into a terrorist organization as a leader, while for the rest of the six accused of belonging to Halboka, the Prosecutor’s Office requests penalties of 7 to 11 years in prison for crimes of integration or collaboration in terrorist organization.
During the second session of the trial held this Tuesday, several defendants such as Aguirre and Naia Zuriarrain have denounced torture and sexual assault by Civil Guard agents who detained them 10 years ago. “They began to touch me, they touched my whole body. A civil guard totally stuck to me, his genitals to my rear and all the time making comments of a sexual nature, humiliating and insulting me,” Zuriarrain has confessed that he has detailed that several Agents left him “in his panties and a T-shirt” and placed “foam rubber” bands on his arms and later, they poured “cold water over his head.” In addition to these procedures, Zuriarrain has accused the agents of forcing him to learn a series of answers to offer them in a police statement.
Before the crude testimonies, the Now Republics coalition composed of EH Bildu, Esquerra Republicana, BNG, Now Canarias, Andecha Astur and Puyalón de Cuchas, has taken the case to the European Commission. “Given the shocking testimony of Naia Zuriarrain, we asked the Commission about the mechanisms it has to guarantee that the Spanish State complies with Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights on the prohibition of torture in the detention of people,” he said. designated the deputy of the European Parliament by the Now Republics coalition.
The lawyer Jon Enparantza, has also denounced that he suffered threats from the Civil Guard, who would have shown him “photographs” of his five children and his wife. In addition, he was aware that they were “torturing” the rest of the detainees because of the “references” made by the agents, who “entered the cell euphoric and out of control.” “Those were the five days I spent. I neither ate, nor drank and hardly slept. On the fourth day they took me to the hospital because I was a little dehydrated and, when I refused to receive serum, they took me back to the cell,” he said.
The accused of leading Halboka: “I have never seen or touched a weapon”
For her part, the lawyer Arantza Zulueta, accused of leading the body, has reiterated during her testimony that she has “never” “seen or touched a weapon” and that it did not belong to Halboka. Zulueta, for whom the Prosecutor’s Office is asking for 19 years in prison for the crimes of integration into a terrorist organization as a leader and for depositing weapons and explosives, has insisted that the only weapons he has seen “have been the photographs” in summaries and years ago in the National Court, when “the seized weapons were brought in and exposed.”
The lawyer has also made it clear that she has “never” “belonged” to the gang’s legal front or to “any apparatus” of the organization. In addition, he has denied that he participated in the collection of the revolutionary tax or in deposits. However, he did acknowledge his membership in the KT, known as the prison front, from where he tried to “coordinate the prisoners” so that they would take over and admit the prison route. Precisely, this was the reason why both she and Jon Enparantza were convicted in September 2019.
Zulueta, who was released from prison in February 2020 after serving his sentence, has explained that if he recognized his membership in the terrorist gang as a leader, it was to prevent the rest of his companions from having to enter prison. He also did it, he pointed out, because he understood that in this way he was taking “a good step in the steps” that were being taken “in democracy, in peace and in coexistence.”
On the other hand, the lawyer has distanced herself from the aliases ‘Marxel’ or ‘Bixer’ contained in the Civil Guard reports, which would link her to different meetings with members of the terrorist organization ETA. Thus, the lawyer has described as “strange or tendentious” that the Armed Institute tries to associate him with any of those pseudonyms. In his statement, he has also denied having participated in or provided information regarding attacks or violent actions by the gang. Similarly, Zulueta has ensured that in her capacity as a lawyer she has always tried to put her clients – accused of belonging to ETA – at the disposal of the National Court.
Two Civil Guard Witnesses
This Wednesday two of the civil guards who participated in the investigation have testified. The first of these was the secretary of the police report, who in his words “assisted” the instructor of the report for all the minutes and participated in the investigation from the beginning of the investigation. According to his statement, it all began in 2008 when the Civil Guard had different operations in the south of France against ETA devices and specifically, they had one against the political apparatus in Bordeaux in collaboration with the French Police. In that operation, according to the civil guard, they detain the members of ETA Xabier López Peña, Ainhoa Ozaeta, Jon Salaberria and Igor Suberbiola and extract computers and computer memories from the apartment where they were.
According to the witness, after analyzing the computer and paper documentation, the documents are divided into three parts: documentation of the political apparatus, documentation of the management and collection of the revolutionary tax, and documentation related to information on potential targets of the terrorist organization. “We work on all the documentation as a whole and carry out different operations thanks to it. Among them we find a structure within the political apparatus that is Halboka,” he argued.
Said documentation exceeded 120,000 documents, some in Basque, others in Spanish and even in French. “Halboka does not only contain the legal front, other departments have a department that controlled the reports of police falls or the falls of ETA members before a police arrest or even another of the structures that managed prison escapes or attempts to prison break. We focus on the general Halboka structure and within it we find the legal front that we understand to be mostly made up of lawyers close to the nationalist organizations or even close to ETA, “he said.
The Civil Guard has assured that “most” of the lawyers defended members of ETA, but there were some who also “did liaison work” and others who during the study of the documentation “could never relate” to the band or their performances. After analyzing this information, the civil guard himself who testifies at the trial prepares the ‘Halboka Report’, a report that is unsigned but which he himself validates as “head of the analysis group” and which he describes as “a preliminary investigation” . The ‘Halboka Report’ was delivered to the Court of Instruction number 3 of the National Court and with it authorization was requested to carry out the searches of the defendants’ law offices, located in Hernani and Bilbao, as well as the subsequent arrests. In those records, specifically in the office in Bilbao where Zulueta worked, a pendrive was seized with information on a criminal with weapons “long weapons -among them an AK-47 rifle-, short and explosive substances” in Mount Jara in France.
According to the Civil Guard, two pendrives fell “when moving a painting” from the wall of the office where Arantza Zulueta worked. Faced with this accusation, the lawyer has denounced in her statement “irregularities” during the search, which took place in 2010. “It was a disaster. Those pendrives were not there,” she complained to the court.
Regarding the intervention of the CNI in this information, which the defense accuses of “conducting illegal wiretapping”, the Civil Guard has assured that the CNI did intervene, but did not deliver the “interventions” or “rough conversations” to the Civil Guard. Instead, they provided messages or excerpts from the conversations as requested.
A second Civil Guard agent has also been summoned as a witness and has argued that during the search of Zulueta’s office in Bilbao, computer devices were found behind a painting or in the bathroom. Something that he has stated also happened during the search at the lawyer’s home, where they found devices in a vacuum cleaner and even on a surfboard.
After the two testimonies, the trial has been interrupted until next Monday, July 26. According to the schedule initially designed, the oral hearing will be held this month and will resume later in September.