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‘Josu Ternera’ alleges that he cannot be tried for belonging to ETA because France has already convicted him of a similar crime

The former head of ETA José Antonio Urrutikoetxea, alias ‘Josu Ternera’, has sent a letter to the National High Court alleging that he cannot be tried for belonging to a terrorist organization, for the attack committed against the Zaragoza barracks in 1987, because he had already been convicted of an “equivalent” crime in France.

“The negative effect of the institution of res judicata prevents the existence of a new pronouncement about belonging to a terrorist group or organization, either as a simple member or leader of the same“Says the defense of ‘Josu Ternera’ in his letter, to which Europa Press has had access.

According to his reasoning, he could not be retried for that crime because the High Court of Paris already sentenced him to eight years in prison in 1990 as the author, among others, of a crime of association of criminals, “equivalent to the crime of belonging to a terrorist organization under Spanish law”.

In this sense, it indicates that the Prosecutor’s Office and other accusations have classified the facts “with those criminal types and aggravating circumstances that correspond to the objective conduct of belonging to, directing or committing the acts prosecution for the reasons expressed in the aggravated subtype reserved for terrorism“.

Thus, it understands that the three requirements that allow the effect of res judicata to be assessed and, therefore, to avoid a double prosecution for the same matter are met: an “objective and subjective identity on the facts” and a final sentence for the same crime.

The defense wanted to influence what it considers an “obvious substantial identity of the facts -belonging to a terrorist organization-, as well as the identity of the subjects -Joseba Andoni Urrutikoetxea-“.

“The res judicata exception, as an inherent consequence of the ‘non bis in idem’ principle, (…) prevents my client from being prosecuted for the crimes expressed“, it states.

“Different Facts”

The Association of Victims of Terrorism (AVT) has opposed the intention of ‘Josu Ternera’ to evade said crime, arguing that the facts judged in France and the attack on the Zaragoza barracks “are not coincident at all”, although the criminal type and the alleged perpetrator are.

In France he was sentenced for “his membership in the terrorist organization ETA” and now “it is a question of determining his participation in the planting of a vehicle bomb in the Zaragoza Civil Guard barracks that caused the death of eleven people and injured as many“, AVT has recalled.

For this reason, it maintains that “another crime of the same nature is committed but through different acts that, in relation to the defendant, they have not been judged until now”, so that the principle ‘non bis in idem’ would not be violated.

The AVT warns that “the defense tries to prove the existence of res judicata based on the legal qualification of the facts” that the accusations have made, and stresses that “what is relevant” is not that, “but the substantial identity of the facts prosecuted in both procedures”, which are “different facts”.

In any case, the legal sources consulted by Europa Press clarify that, even if he avoided being tried for belonging to a terrorist organization, He would still have to face the crimes of consummated murder and frustrated murder of which he is also accused.

The National Court Prosecutor’s Office has requested 2,354 years in prison for ‘Josu Ternera’ for this attack: 30 years in prison for each of the 11 crimes of consummated murder and 23 years for each of the 88 crimes of attempted murder. Prosecutor Pedro Rubira considers him the author “both by induction and by necessary cooperation.”

Detention in 2019

The prosecution of ‘Josu Ternera’ has taken place after the Paris Court of Cassation authorized in November 2020 his final delivery to Spain for this attack. The Gallic court thus rejected another appeal presented by the defense of the former head of ETA against a decision of the Chamber of Investigation of the Court of Appeals of Paris that ordered his repatriation.

Urrutikoetxea was arrested in May 2019 in Sallanches, in the French Alps, after spending almost 17 years in hiding. In June of that year, the Court of Appeals released him provisionally for health reasons, but when he left the La Santé prison he was detained after the French authorities made sure that the National High Court required him for various reasons. . Currently, he remains free with precautionary measures.

It was in September 2021 when the judge of the National Court Ismael Moreno ended the investigation phase and agreed to send the summary, “along with the seized objects, the amounts consigned and/or occupied and the corresponding separate pieces, if any”to the Second Section of the Criminal Chamber of the National High Court.

In July, the Third Section of that same room confirmed the prosecution of ‘Josu Ternera’ for this case by rejecting an appeal where he alleged that in previous sentences it was established that the person who ordered the attack was the historical ETA member Francisco Mújica Garmendia, ‘Pakito’ ; that the report signed by the Civil Guard that action in the case breaks the principle of impartiality because the attack was directed against this body; and that there is not enough evidence against him.

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