Minister decides: Juanra to be extradited to Spain

Amsterdam, July 7, 2003

Donner decides: Juanra to be extradited to Spain

We are not surprised, but certainly angry that justice minister Donner has decided today to extradite Juanra to Spain.

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

For years, the Spanish state has been on an enormous offensive against political opposition there and will stop at nothing to silence it. Newspapers and magazines are banned without trial, journalists are locked up, activists are tortured, political parties are banned and social movements are criminalised. According to the human rights commission of the United Nations and Amnesty International, torture takes place systematically in Spanish prisons and police stations. The number of political prisoners has meanwhile reached almost 700. That is more than in the era of the Franco dictatorship.

On January 16, 2002, Juanra was arrested in Amsterdam. In Spain, he is suspected of having provided information to a cell of the ETA. Ever since, he has been sitting in prison in the Netherlands, with an interruption of a few months. Juanra's extradition 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 press spokesman of the squatters' movement in Barcelona and is the singer of the popular political metal band KOP. A public figure who did not make a secret of his criticism of Spain's brutal repression of the Basque independence movement.

During the extradition trial, it appeared that the evidence provided by Spain should be enough to give anyone second thoughts. The damning affadavit that the charges were built up on turned out to have demonstrably been obtained by way of torture. Statements from different agencies contradicted one another. The charge against Juanra was significantly altered as many as four times. Even the Officer of Justice (the prosecutor on the Dutch side) admitted that 'Spain has made of right mess of it.'

In the end, Juanra lost his trial because the EU member states express a blind faith in each other's legal systems, the so-called trust principle. In the course of the defence, various reports from human rights organisations were highlighted. These reports demonstrate that suspects in Spain, definitely if they are suspected of ETA connections, are systematically tortured. In the first five days of detention (called 'incommunicado'), during which the suspect may have no contact with a lawyer or a physician in accordance with the anti-terror law, torture takes place multiple times.

Even after that point it occurs, but the court concluded cynically that this may well occur in individual cases, but one cannot draw the conclusion that Juanra will be tortured as well. Because Spain is a signatory to the international anti-torture treaty (International Human Rights Treaty), it is simply assumed that Spain will follow it as well.

Donner's decision cannot be seen in isolation from the anti-terror scare that the Netherlands is working hard on. Even the district court's minimal advice to not place Juanra in 'incommunicado' detention upon his arrival in Spain is now being ignored by Donner. The minister demonstrates with his decision that he is not interested in the violation of Juanra's civil rights. Juanra and his support organisation will continue to resist this extradition. Extradition of Juanra on the part of the Netherlands would mean complicity in torture and political repression in Spain. That is unacceptable!

Donner's decision will shortly be challenged in a legal procedure against the state.

More information is to be found at the website:

Support Organisation Free Juanra, Amsterdam

(The Support Organisation Free Juanra is an initiative of people who are friends with Juanra and/or who feel connected to the issues that he fought for in Barcelona.)

Support Organisation Free Juanra
Postbus 15727
1001 NE Amsterdam
The Netherlands
tel: +31-(0)6-19322304