Spanish court decision is an attempt to criminalise Basque peace makers - Kearney
Sinn Féin National Chairperson, Declan Kearney MLA, has condemned the decision of the Spanish Supreme Court to reopen the case of five Basque political leaders, including the Secretary General of EH Bildu, Arnaldo Otegi, stating that it represents a reckless subversion of ongoing efforts to finally and democratically resolve conflict in the Basque Country by criminalising those committed to peace.
Speaking after the court ruling this week, the South Antrim MLA said:
“In 2011, Basque activists Arnaldo Otegi, Rafa Diez, Sonia Jacinto, Mitren Zabaleta and Arkaitz Rodriguez, were sentenced to ten years imprisonment for alleged membership of the militant group ETA. This was later reduced to six and a half years by the Spanish Supreme Court.
“However in 2018, by which time all the accused had served their full sentence, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that article 6.1 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the 'right to a fair trial' had been violated.
“This latest ruling by the Spanish Supreme Courts constitutes a serious violation of the previous ECHR ruling in 2018 in this case, and infringes the human rights of all the accused.
“This decision is also a premeditated political attack on those who are at the centre of building the Basque peace process, and against the integrity of the process itself.
“Arnaldo Otegi was central to the strategy which led to the ending of armed actions, disarmament, and eventual dissolution of ETA. He has shown immense leadership in taking courageous decisions and risks for a democratic peace in the Basque Country.
“The policy of attempting to criminalise Basque political leaders pursued by successive Spanish governments, has been a failure and should be ended. Such efforts only serve to undermine ongoing efforts to build a credible peace process. Conflict can only be resolved through dialogue, negotiations, and respect for rights.
“Sinn Féin strongly condemns this latest Spanish Supreme Court ruling, and calls on the international community to raise the serious humanitarian and political concerns surrounding this case with the Spanish government.
“Instead of attempting to criminalise and imprison Basque peace makers, the Spanish government should commence a process of releasing all political prisoners, and finally commit in good faith to commence proper negotiations with the Basque political leadership.”