January 16, 2003:

One year that the Netherlands has been actively complicit in Spanish oppression

Today, January 16, 2003, it was exactly one year ago that a special arrest team apprehended the Catalonian activist and singer Juanra Rodriguez. The following night, an enormous police presence invaded the former squat 'Vrankrijk', where Juanra had been staying, with an excessive display of power.

Now, one year later, Juanra has been detained for 8 months under a severe regime in the prison at Vught.

On Feburary 4, the Supreme Court will take a decision about the objection against extradition that Juanra's attorney has filed. Should extradition be denied, the Minister of Justice will decide if and when he will extradite Juanra, and thereby how far the Netherlands will go to co-operate with political oppression. By extraditing, the Netherlands will in fact be legalising torture as a method of interrogation.

This cannot and should not be allowed to happen!

But first, a review of the events until now:

It became quickly apparent that the ambush on January 16, 2002 was done at the behest of Spain. According to the Spanish officer of justice (prosecutor), Juanra is suspected of delivering information to the Basque separatist movement ETA.
At least, that was the first story. In the course of the past year, there came ever more, frequently self-contradicting versions of the accusations. First Juanra was a member in 2001 of an ETA command that ceased to exist in 1999, then he was supposedly an accessory to a murder that was never committed. There were frequently enormous, demonstrable errors in the Spanish claims.
All the while, Juanra's name turned out to have only surfaced once: in a statement obtained from someone by means of torture, a statement that the person in question immediately retracted as soon as he emerged from the infamous cells of the Guardia Civil. His lawsuit about the torture, unsurprisingly, has still not been seen by a judge in Spain.

Meanwhile, Juanra had been sitting for months under an extra-severe regime in Vught. No books, hardly any visits, 23 hours a day in the cell and outside air permitted only by himself. The Netherlands wants to flex a muscle and demonstrate that it can play with the big boys when it comes to mistreating people suspected of 'terrorism'...
During the extradition trial, Spain kept coming up with constantly changing accusations. On June 25, this became even too much for the Dutch judge. He decided to set Juanra free for the time being, until the moment that Spain could at the very least make clear what Juanra was suspected of.

Naturally, Spain was not about to let this happen, and so the pressure was greatly stepped up. Not with evidence; the Spanish authorities would not let that sort of futile exercise keep them from their oppression of political resistance. Spain has a long, bloody and extremely undemocratic tradition of repression to maintain. This is the country where, in the Eighties, the social democrats made use of death squads. And where the PP has been in power for years now, the political heirs of Franco. This party has unleashed a total war on the Basque independence movement. Political parties, newspapers, youth organisations, trade unions, everything is banned nowadays. But it doesn't just target Basque people and organisations. In 2002, Spain proposed within Europe to also brand the anti-globalisation movement as 'terrorist'.

And the European Extradition Treaty of 1996 is literally written by Spain. Just before then, Belgium had refused to extradite two Basques to Spain, because they had not a single chance of a fair trial there. Enraged, Spain managed to have the entire Extradition Treaty altered. From that point forward, no politically-motivated resistance could take place within the EU. Simply by stating in the Treaty that all EU countries are model democracies, and therefore that a judge in another EU country would not be allowed to ask questions when an extradition request was made... Even practices of torture - the annual Amnesty reports speak volumes about Spain - can no longer be a reason to deny extradition.

In Juanra's case, it has thus far gone just as Spain had hoped. There was a slipshod 'final' version of the accusations, with still no single piece of hard evidence. But that turned out to be no hindrance to the Dutch judge to grant extradition after all, as if to say "this doesn't hold any water, but we'll let them sort it out". But of course - we are a civilised country, after all - there was a great deal of "concern" about Spain's practices of torture, but that mustn't lead to the conclusion that Juanra would be tortured. And if that were to happen, he could file a case with the court in Strasbourg, couldn't he? Furthermore, the judge would ask the minister to make sure that Juanra wouldn't end up in the most infamous cells of all. Problem solved, hands washed in innocence.

A tiny spot remained: the judge saw no reason why Juanra should have to wait out the time until his extradition in prison. In any case, he had voluntarily showed up for every court hearing. At this, the Ministry of Internal Affairs decided to step in: extradition was not enough. No, the Netherlands wanted to get its own punishment in. You know, September 11th and such. Security! Punishment! Repression! It must be stopped! Our reputation on the world stage!
So after a new hearing, the Ministry of Internal Affairs managed to get Juanra behind bars in Vught again. And there he sits, to this very moment.

On February 4, the Supreme Court will issue a verdict on the higher appeal filed by Juanra's attorney. Should extradition be denied (and, as mentioned, Spain has done everything possible to make extradition within the EU as easy as possible) then the new or the lame-duck justice minister will have to decide on this politically-sensitive extradition.

The current minister, Donner, has already demonstrated what he thinks of human rights and of the rule of law: without even informing the Ministry of Internal Affairs, mullah Krekar was extradited to Norway in a highly secret operation. Only the American government was informed. Nor did Donner even hesitate to lock up two attorneys for a night. Donner had already attracted attention with his emergency rulings, and by far overextending his own legal authority, even circumventing the law and international human-rights treaties.

From Donner there is not much of anything good to be expected. It is therefore up to us, together with as many people as possible, to raise the political pressure on him or his successor.
In the coming days, we want to raise that pressure in various ways. And hopefully, we can count on your support. Keep your eyes and ears open for announcements!

No extradition to a country that tortures!

Juanra must be free immediately!

Support group Free Juanra