Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Spanish Inquisition

Inquisitorial campaign not over yet

With court case 18/98 due to start in Madrid on November 21st against 59 Basque citizens representing a wide range of social and political entities, the grass-roots campaign in support of the victims of this political witch hunt is warning that the Spanish law courts' offensive is not over yet.

Speaking on Tuesday, lehendakari Ibarretxe dismissed the recent trial in Bilbao against Juan María Atutxa, Gorka Knörr and Kontxi Bilbao [Gara English Weekly, October 26] as 'the tail of the comet launched by the PP [the right-wing party ruling in Spain until last year's elections] in the courts'.

Teresa Toda, speaking for the 18/98+ platform, disagrees emphatically. She believes the worst of Spain's inquisitorial strategy against Basque activists, set in motion by former president Jose María Aznar, is yet to come:

'The head of that comet, which denies the rights of individuals and of the entire Basque society, is still alive and society should be very aware of that fact, because while some talk about 'the tail end of the comet' we haven't had the head yet, and its about to crash down on Euskal Herria,' she warned.

Toda was speaking in Bilbao in an appearance with other members of the 18/98+ campaign who had met to assess the Kaiera campaign.

Mariano Ferrer, a popular retired journalist and supporter of the campaign, said that the different court cases included in the 18/98 macro-trial 'hold no water', which is why, in his opinion, 'they are having such a hard time getting the court trials started'.

'Eight years have passed since judge Baltasar Garzón had the [Basque newspaper] Egin shut down, and that trial still hasn't come up,' Ferrer pointed out.

According to the veteran current affairs analyst, these trials amount to rights violations: 'They represent a distortion of the justice system in any state subject to the rule of law, because these are politically motivated trials with a specific goal, in a well-defined political climate, which do not merely threaten but actually nullify the civil and political rights of individuals, businesses and a variety of entities.'

But, he said, such violations do not only affect those directly accused in the trials themselves but 'affect us all, because in a democratic society rights are indivisible; when a right is threatened and nothing is done to defend it, it is always a step backwards.'

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