The Constitutional Court has provisionally stopped the new trial against Arnaldo Otegi and the rest of the defendants in the Bateragune case. The magistrates have upheld the request for urgent measures from the nationalist leader and the rest of those affected and suspended the decision of the Supreme Court to order the National Court to repeat the trial.
The ‘Bateragune case’ returns to the starting box: a new trial with the sentence served and after the blow in Strasbourg
The chamber chaired by Manuel Marchena studied the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, which decided that Otegi and the rest had not had a fair trial in this case that studied the reconstruction of the outlawed Batasuna. The decision was that his sentence was annulled but that the National Court had to repeat the trial with different magistrates.
The Constitutional Court explains that it paralyzes the possible trial due to the possibility that they will be convicted before they pass judgment on the merits of the matter. The resolution says that “it seems appropriate to agree at this time to suspend the holding of the new trial, in order to prevent the risk that the present appeal for protection loses its purpose.” This measure, they add, does not entail a “serious disturbance to a constitutionally protected interest, or to the fundamental rights or public liberties of a third party.”
If the trial were held before the Constitutional Court makes a decision, says the resolution, “it is evident that its eventual estimate would be merely illusory and nominal, since the act to which, precisely, the harmful potential is attributed had previously materialized.” The Prosecutor’s Office, as stated in the order signed by the plenary session of the Constitutional Court, had asked to reject the precautionary measures. The Public Ministry understands that those indicted by Bateragune “have not justified the irreparability of the damages that would cause the execution of the contested sentence” and that “if there is a damage, it would be future and uncertain.”
The now leader of EH Bildu was sentenced in 2012 to six and a half years in prison by the Supreme Court along with Rafael Díez Usabiaga, Miren Zabaleta, Sonia Jacinto and Arkaitz Rodríguez. The accusation was to try to rebuild the outlawed Batasuna through an alliance of Basque independence activists in a case dubbed ‘Bateragune’. Later, the European Justice established that they had not had a fair trial at the National Court: the presence of Judge Angela Murillo, with whom Otegi had run into in previous trials, vitiated the process.
The Supreme Court acknowledged receipt of the Strasbourg decision but did not limit itself to overturning the conviction. The criminal chamber chaired by Manuel Marchena understood that the correct thing was to hold a new trial but guaranteeing that Murillo was not part of the tribunal of the National High Court. Otegi was released from prison in March 2016 after serving six years behind bars.