7 February 2006

Judges adjourn 18/98 case for further two weeks

The lawyers have pointed out that they have not had time to go through the one hundred thousand pages that make up the 75/89 preliminary proceedings

During yesterday’s session in connection with the 18/98 Case the Spanish National Criminal Court took a decision once again to adjourn the trial. The Presiding Judge, Angela Murillo, took the decision in response to the requests made by the defence lawyers. On behalf of the defence counsel, Arantxa Zulueta requested a break of one month. But the panel of judges only agreed to adjourn the proceedings for two weeks and they warned the defence lawyers that it would be “the last time” the trial would be adjourned. So the trial in the 18/98 Case is set to resume on February 13.Yesterday’s session in the special courtroom set up in the Casa de Campo in Madrid began an hour behind schedule. When the trial was about to resume, Arantxa Zulueta pointed out that they were still facing the same problems in conducting their defence as three weeks ago. She recalled that the trial had also had to be adjourned on January 9. On that day the lawyers argued that the conditions for guaranteeing the right to defence did not exist and filed a complaint. At that time they told the bench that they had not had time to examine the 75/89 preliminary proceedings which had been kept sub judice until shortly before that moment. The defence counsel regards the preliminary proceedings as the basis of the charges brought against the indictees and that is why they need to be able to access the documents in order to conduct their defence properly. Seeing that there was no chance of this, they also announced on January 9 that they would be digging in their heels. The defence counsel’s decision got the backing of the Bar Association of the BAC-Basque Autonomous Community. The judges then decided to suspend the trial.Zulueta said during yesterday’s session that the decision meant that the judges recognised that the documents were essential for the defence to do its work. The lawyer argued that a three-week adjournment was insufficient to examine the documents; furthermore, she said, they had not had enough time even to have copies made of such a large number of documents. So she was telling the judges that the lawyers had still not been able to obtain all the documents pertaining to the preliminary proceedings.

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