The ordeal continues for a score of victims of the GAL and the Spanish Basque Battalion (BVE), two groups linked to State structures that practiced State terrorism in the framework of the dirty war against ETA. The fight undertaken to try to be recognized as victims of terrorism has ended in the least imagined way: they will have to pay the State out of their pockets.
Of the 23 procedures that reached the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to try unsuccessfully to obtain the recognition of victims of terrorism that the Spanish courts had denied, 22 already have this judicial closure, which has resulted in economic requests for costs to the State Attorney, which total more than of 106,000 euros.
The Egiari Zor Foundation -which vindicates the memory of the victims of the dirty war- recalled this Thursday in a note that “in 2014 the Spanish government denied the official recognition of some of them and of the relatives of people killed by state terrorism on one side and another the equalization of the compensation provided for in the then new regulation of the Comprehensive Law for Victims of Terrorism“.
To do this, the PP Executive relied on article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that “compensation may be reduced or eliminated (…) if the victim or applicants participate in organized crime or belong to a organization dedicated to perpetrating violent crimes”.
“These people who were victims of serious human rights violations, such as the violation of the right to life, had never been tried or convicted for belonging to ETA. The decision of the Ministry of Interior of denying the equalization of compensation was based exclusively on police reports and press articles,” recalled Egiari Zor.
In this context, the next of kin of the victims “applied to the different judicial instances of the Spanish State, exhausting the internal route, until arriving at the European Court of Human Rights“. In 2019, Strasbourg dismissed these demands.
“Like any citizen who undertakes a legal process that culminates in
Dismissal of the lawsuit filed, to the expenses of the process itself (prosecutor, lawyer) is added the order of costs. In total there are 23 procedures that reached Strasbourg and therefore there are 23 sentences on costs”, explained Egiari Zor.
So far, 22 court orders have been made effective, so one is yet to be made effective. “To date, the total amount demanded by the State attorney for effective costs in the 22 cases referred amounts to just over 106,000 euros,” the foundation said.
As he explained, “the cost sentences for this judicial process have ranged between 1,000 and 19,000 euros.” “Initially, the sentences for costs ranged between 1,000 and 3,000 euros, but after a change in the State’s legal profession for this matter, the amounts requested for costs were increased very substantially,” he pointed out.
For Egiari Zor, “the existence of a political will to
generate more damage and more pain, the victims suffered from State terrorism”. It is inevitable to ask whether the criteria of the State’s legal profession would be the same if the origin of the violence suffered by the plaintiffs were different”, he remarked.
“We have to say that throughout this process we have had the accompaniment, help and advice of the Directorate for Victims of Basque governmentwith whom we have also maintained a direct communication channel that we are grateful for”, the foundation remarked in its note.
One such procedure involves Felipa Artano Sagastumemother of Joxi Zabalathe young Basque who was murdered along with Joxean Lasa in 1983. The crime was carried out by civil guards who were part of the structure of the GAL, an organization created under the Government of Felipe Gonzalez with the purpose of assassinating nationalist militants.
In the case of Artano, the resolution issued on April 21, 2022 by the Administrative Litigation Chamber of the National audience orders the payment of 9,252 euros as costs.
“This is nonsense. They take away what we love most and, in addition, they demand that we pay exorbitant costs. What can we do in the face of so much injustice and revenge?” Pili Zabalasister of Joxi Zabala.
In this regard, he urged the Ministry of Interior –which appeared as the party sued by the victims in their attempt to obtain this official recognition– to demonstrate whether there is “internal will” to avoid collecting said amounts “nor to urge proceedings aimed at the seizure of my mother’s assets, who has 91 years”.
To date, around thirty cases of people who were assassinated by organizations such as the GAL or the Spanish Basque Battalion and that are still not included in the official lists of the Ministry of Interior, which implies that the State does not recognize them as such. Successive governments have even refused to consider the activity of the GAL as state terrorism.
According to a report published by the Basque government in 2014, there were 67 fatalities of the so-called “counterterrorism”. Forty were produced by the Spanish Basque Battalion and the remaining 27 by the GAL. According to that same report, 62% of these crimes remain unsolved.
According to data collected by the foundation Basque Memory, 53 deaths caused by both state terrorism and police forces ended up shelved. In 37 cases there was not even an investigation.