The Basque Government has decided to recognize Mikel Zabalza as a “victim of police abuse” despite the fact that the Justice archived the cause of his death in 1985 on the understanding that the tests carried out did not provide data that led to doubt the official version of the events. This is that Zabalza drowned in the Bidasoa river while fleeing from the Civil Guard who had arrested him on suspicion of belonging to the terrorist group ETA.

However, the Commission for the Assessment of the Basque Law on Police Abuses has unanimously determined that it is an “unlawful death” preceded by “serious torture, and inhuman and degrading treatment.”

This Law of Recognition and Reparation of Victims of Human Rights Violations in the context of political violence in the Basque Autonomous Community between 1978 and 1999, known as the Law of Police Abuses, was appealed before the Constitutional Court by the Government of Mariano Rajoy.

The Executive argued, among other reasons, that the evaluation commission that appeared in the regulation, in charge of defining which people can be considered victims of police violence, could not exercise this function. because it is a task that falls exclusively to the judges.

But when the socialist Pedro Sánchez arrived at Moncloa, the Government agreed with the Basque to withdraw the appeal of unconstitutionality in exchange for some changes being introduced.

Thus, even though the judge Antonio Gimenez Pericashead of the Investigating Court number 1 of San Sebastián, shelved this case in 1988 upon verifying that “the facts contemplated in the proceedings do not constitute any criminal offence”, the Basque Government has concluded by virtue of this law that the alleged ETA member He was the victim of police abuse.

The judge found that Zabalza slipped out of the Intxaurrondo Civil Guard barracks where he was being held through a hole in the Endarlaza tunnel after escaping, after being kneed in the testicles, from the custody of one of the three guards who were leading him to locate a suspected weapons depot. The order underlined that the news of the escape was transmitted to the commanders and police stations and to the French police, and considered it likely that the civil guards could not hear the splash of a body falling into the water from inside the Endarlaza tunnel. The judge adhered to the rulings that unanimously established that Zabalza died because of “suffocation by submersion».

However, now in an extrajudicial commission with political overtones, the Basque Government has decided to bypass the Justice and determine that the official version of the death of the alleged ETA member is “very unlikely, not to say simply incredible.”

The opinion considers that Zabalza’s human rights were violated, “with manifest defenselessness, the right to life preceded by serious violations of his physical, mental and moral integrity, in the form of serious torture and inhuman and degrading treatment” when he was detained.

In its 57-page report, the Assessment Commission points out that “it would be an assumption compatible with acts of a violent nature, of homicidal medical-legal etiology.” For this reason, after making a “considered, reasonable and contrasted” assessment of the evidence, he comes to the conviction that “the events that occurred between November 26 and December 15, 1985, with his arrest, have been sufficiently proven”. “and torture”, as well as “the involvement of agents of the State-Civil Guard”, in accordance with article 2 of Law 12/2016 on police abuse.

In addition, the Basque Government will celebrate next Sunday in the Navarran town of Orbaizeta an act of recognition for Mikel Zabalza, in which the Minister of Equality, Justice and Social Policies, Beatriz Artolazabaland the president of the Evaluation Commission of the so-called Law of Police Abuses, Juana Balmasedaas well as representatives of the family.


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