Amsterdam, May 20 2003

Dutch court says Juanra can be extradited to Spain

On May 20, the Supreme Court decided to allow the extradition of Juanra to Spain. The justice minister is however not bound to this verdict. He can decide that the extradition of Juanra shall not take place.

For more than a year now, the Free Juanra support organisation has been fighting the extradition of Juanra. Juanra, as an activist, runs a serious risk of being tortured in Spain and will get no chance at a fair trial there.

On January 16, 2002, Juanra was arrested in Amsterdam. In Spain, he was suspected of having provided information to a cell of the ETA. Ever since, he has been sitting-- except for during a break of several months-- in prison in Vught. The extradition of Juanra to Spain is controversial. Many people think that Juanra is being persecuted for political reasons.

The Catalan Juanra (36) was active in various social movements in Barcelona. He regularly appeared as a spokesperson for the squatters' movement in Barcelona and is the singer of the popular political metal band KOP. A public figure who never made any secret of blasting Spain's brutal repression of the Basque independence movement.

At this moment in Spain, there is a witch hunt in progress against everyone who fundamentally criticises the government. In the fight against ETA, civil rights are being discarded at a rapid pace. A key theory being used for this at the moment is that anyone who strives for the same goals as ETA, but tries to reach their goals by other means than ETA, is part of ETA and therefore should be prosecuted as such. We see the charges against Juanra in this light.

During the extradition trial, it turned out that the evidence delivered by Spain was very dubious. The linchpin statement accusing Juanra, around which the entire case was built, turned out to have been demonstrably obtained by means of torture. Statements from various agencies contradicted one another. The charges against Juanra were extensively modified as many as four times. Even the Officer of Justice [prosecutor] admitted that "Spain has made a right mess of it."

Ultimately, Juanra lost his case due to the principle of trust that the EU countries have established by agreement. In this, blind faith is expressed in one another's justice systems. Throughout the defence, various reports from human rights organisations were brought to the fore. (Among others, from Amnesty International and from the UN inspector focusing on torture.) These reports demonstrate that suspects in Spain, certainly if they are suspected of having ETA connections, are systematically tortured. Torture takes place many times over in the first five days of detention (called incommunicado), during which according to the anti-terror law, the suspect may have no contact with an attorney or physician.

It happens after that point as well, but the Amsterdam district court cynically concluded that this may indeed happen in individual cases, but one cannot draw the conclusion that Juanra will be tortured as well. And if that does happen, can't he file a complaint with the Spanish court and subsequently with the European Court? The court conveniently neglected the fact that such procedures take years, and that even the cases that have been won at the European Court have not led to a single preventive measure being taken in Spain.

The court does advise the minister in its verdict to ask Spain for guarantees that Juanra will not be placed in 'incommunicado' detention upon his arrival in Madrid, which in and of itself might be called extremely remarkable. The court is hereby recognising in fact what human rights organisations have already been saying for years: that Spain systematically applies torture and especially during this form of detention.

However, the justice minister is not bound to follow the verdict of the court in any way whatsoever. He can decide that Juanra's extradition shall not take place. Nonetheless, we suspect that the minister does not want to attract Spain's fury, and that he will turn a blind eye to the violation of Juanra's civil rights. We also suspect that the minister will take a pass on the court's advice to ask Spain for some guarantees, because the Netherlands would in fact be recognising that Juanra is at risk of being tortured in Spain.

The Netherlands, by weighing its interests in such a way, is in danger of becoming complicit in torture and political repression.

We find it unjust that Juanra, who denies being or having ever been involved in ETA, is being extradited. He has no chance at a fair trial in Spain and is in danger of being tortured there.

Instead, a discussion should be begun concerning the current EU extradition treaties and the ever-larger tension between civil freedoms and the call for more security.

You can find more information on the website

Free Juanra Support Organisation, Amsterdam

(The Free Juanra Support Organisation is an initiative of people who are friends
with Juanra and/or feel a kinship with the fight he fought in Barcelona.)

Free Juanra Support Organisation
Postbus 15727
1001 NE Amsterdam
The Netherlands
tel: +31-6-19322304