France decides to extradite Josu Ternera for a murder in Vitoria in 1980

Publication: Wednesday, January 6, 2021 6:36 PM

French justice gave its approval on Wednesday to the Spanish extradition request against the former ETA leader José Antonio Urrutikoetxea, “ Josu Ternera ”, to be tried for his alleged involvement in the murder of the Michelin director Luis Hergueta, committed on June 25, 1980 in Vitoria.

The investigative chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal approved the Madrid National Court’s request for Ternera to sit on the bench for a crime which, if found guilty, could carry a sentence of 30 years in prison . .

Today’s decision will likely be the subject of an appeal by Josu Ternera to the Supreme Court, a process that will prolong the arrival of a final decision by several months. While waiting for the detailed motivations of the judges of the investigating chamber to be known, it must be noted that they did not accept the arguments of the defense which, during the hearing on December 2, insisted on the limitation facts.

De Ciudadanos, the president of the formation, Inés Arrimadas, considered the news as “a triumph of democracy”. “I am happy that Josu Ternera has to return to Spain to be held responsible for his crimes as a member of the terrorist gang ETA. I hope the full weight of the law falls on him,” Arrimadas wrote on his Twitter account .

The defense argued “political” objectives

Defense lawyers also denounced that the objectives of this Spanish extradition request were “political” and noted that the attack on Luis Hergueta was claimed shortly after being committed by ETA Político Militar, which was a faction ” rival ”of ETA Militar, to which its client belonged at the time.

Urrutikoetxea, who is 70 years old and has been living in central Paris on probation (with electronic bracelet) since the end of July last year, when he was allowed to leave prison for health reasons, must also be sent to Spain to do so. to be judged. for two other reasons.

French justice has already ruled definitively, after the Supreme Court had discarded the resources of the veteran former leader of ETA, in favor of this surrender for the attack against the headquarters of the Civil Guard in Zaragoza in 1987, in during which eleven people were murdered. , including six children. Also for the summary said of “herriko taverns” on ETA funding.

Cases pending in France

But for it to be entrusted to the Spanish authorities, the two cases pending before the French courts must first be closed.

A trial is scheduled for the first in February, although regardless of the conviction it can be appealed to the Supreme Court, which would extend the outcome by several months. For the second, which has returned to the investigation phase, preliminary dates have been set in June.

On July 1 of last year, the same investigative chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal rejected an order of the Spanish Euro in which he was accused of crimes against humanity.

In this case, the French judges considered that in the documents which were transmitted to them by the national court of Madrid, there were “inaccuracies” both on the qualification of the facts which were accused and on the dates.

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