28 January 2010

Fourth session of the Egunkaria trial.

Imanol Murua-Uria, a former member of staff of Egunkaria and a witness for the defence, denied that ETA had said that Martxelo Otamendi should be appointed as the newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief. This is one of the arguments put forward by the prosecution. The journalist told the judge that he had suggested Otamendi to Joan Mari Torrealdai, the Chairman of Egunkaria, S.A.’s Board of Directors, in 1993. Otamendi was appointed as Editor-in-Chief of Egunkaria in June of that year and remained in that post until the paper was closed down on the orders of Judge Juan del Olmo in February 2003.

Murua-Uria eta Zabaleta were the first witnesses called by the defence counsel to give evidence. Before them the last witnesses called by the private prosecution gave evidence. One of them was Txomin Aizpurua, a one-time ETA member and former prisoner. Aizpurua declared that he did not know of any reports going back to the time of the setting up of the newspaper. Yet according to the prosecution, documents about Egunkaria had been seized from him. The newspaper was set up in 1990 and Aizpurua was arrested a year later.

The two Guardia Civil officers who had participated in the arrests of Otamendi and Txema Auzmendi were called by the prosecution to give evidence. The first one, who took part in the arrest of Egunkaria’s Editor-in-Chief, initially said he had no recollection of this and had to be shown the record of arrest before he admitted that this had been the case. He then asked who Otamendi was, and went on to say that copies of Zutabe (ETA’s internal newssheets) had been found during the searches made of him, but he did not remember where they had been found.

The prosecution and the defence may submit their findings to the panel of judges at the end of February.

On Saturday 23 January the indicted received the broad support at Arantzazu monastery of prominent figures in society.

In Ireland there will be several talks organised by the Irish Basque Solidarity Committees in coming days. The main speaker will be Ainara Mendiola, the coordinator of the International Campaign in Favour of Egunkaria. The talks will take place in Derry on Saturday 30th January at 12pm in Cultúrlann, on Monday 1st February in Belfast’s Queen’s University’s Students Union’s Club Room 1 at 1pm and in Cultúrlann at 7.30pm on the same night, and on Tuesday 2nd February talks will also be organised in Dublin.

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