European Court of Human Rights Condemns Spain for Torturing Two Basques

  • The European Court of Human Rights has condemned the Spanish State for torturing Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola. The judges decided that Spain had contravened the 3rd clause of the European Convention. The Spanish State has to pay the two men 30,000 and 20,000 Euros, respectively, "for moral damages".

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The decision to take the case to Strasbourg was made when the Spanish High Court decided to absolve the four torturers who had been condemned by a court in Gipuzkoa (Basque Country) and, subsequently, the Spanish Constitutional Court decided not to accept an appeal against that second ruling.

At present Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola are in prison, accused of being members of ETA and having killed two people at Madrid's Barajas airport on 30th December, 2006.

16 hours after having been arrested, Igor Portu had to be taken to the Intensive Care Unit at Donostia Hospital. He had a punctured lung, a broken rib, a haemorrhage in one eye and bruises all over his body: it was obvious that he had been tortured.

After being kept incommunicado for five days, Mattin Sarasola reported to a judge from the Spanish National Court that he, too, had been tortured.

Retrial Requested

Sortu, the Basque pro-independence party, has asked for Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola's sentences to be reviewed. Arkaitz Rodriguez, Sortu's spokesperson, has underlined that this is the first time that Strasbourg has condemned Spain "not just for not investigating reports of torture in the correct manner" but also "for torturing".

Rodriguez has recalled the decisions which the European Court has taken against Spain in the past, seven in total, and stated that the Spanish High Court has covered up cases of torture, systematically turning a blind eye to such cases.

A report drawn up by the University of the Basque Country's Criminology Institute states that there were 4,113 proven cases of torture between 1960 and 2014.

Presentation of the official report about torture cases between 1960 and 2014. (Photo: Irekia)

This article was translated by 11itzulpen; you can see the original in Basque here.

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