14 January 2010

Former ETA members deny involvement of armed organisation in setting up Egunkaria

On Tuesday 12th, on the third day of the Basque language newspaper Egunkaria trial, former ETA members Jose Luis Alvarez Santacristina aka ‘Txelis’, Jose Mari Dorronsoro and Carmen Gisasola appeared at the Spanish National Criminal Court as witnesses for the prosecution.

Egunkaria’s editorial council members Joan Mari Torrealdai, Iñaki Uria, Martxelo Otamendi, Txema Auzmendi and Xabier Oleaga had been indicted on charges of being ETA members.

The three former ETA members gave evidence as witnesses because, according to police sources, at the time of their arrest they had been found to be in possession of documents pertaining to Egunkaria. But on Tuesday the three denied that the armed organisation had ever promoted a Basque-language newspaper, or that they had intervened in it. Dorronsoro said that Egunkaria had not been mentioned “at all” during the executive committee meeting of the armed organisation ETA, and Gisasola declared that while she was a member of ETA she knew nothing about the project.

Before them officers of the Spanish Guardia Civil police gave evidence as witnesses today at the request of the prosecution. On 20 February 2003, the Spanish Guardia Civil had closed down Egunkaria on the orders of Judge Juan del Olmo of the Spanish National Criminal Court believing that the newspaper had connections with ETA, but the Spanish Guardia Civil did not submit any evidence against Egunkaria yesterday, either.

One officer said he thought that the case had been dropped. When questioned about the fact that the people running Egunkaria had been tortured at the time of their arrest, the Spanish Guardia Civil officers said that everything had proceeded “normally”.

The defendants Joan Mari Torrealdai, Iñaki Uria, Martxelo Otamendi, Txema Auzmendi and Xabier Oleaga said they were full of renewed energy after receiving the support of thousands and thousands of Basques in Bilbao on December 19. Torrealdai said, “After today’s session, too, the independence of Egunkaria and the innocence of the defendants will be clearer than ever.”

The panel of trial judges is keen to present its summary on 27 January.

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