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Basque political prisoner Iñaki de Juana Chaos on hunger strike

10. September 2006

Help save Iñaki’s life!

On August 7, Basque political prisoner Iñaki de Juana Chaos began a hunger strike to demand his right to be released. Iñaki de Juana should have been released on October 25, 2004, after serving his sentence in full and having spent 18 years in jail. However, the Magistrate at the First Penal Court of the Spanish Audiencia Nacional, Gà³mez Bermúdez, issued a decision dated October 22, attempting to contest the remission Iñaki was entitled to and to prevent his release.

In view of the impossibility to maintain this line of argument, the judge decreed his remand in custody for an alleged crime of membership of an armed group and terrorist threats.

The basis for the accusations were two opinion articles the prisoners sent to the daily Gara . It is impossible to find any rational basis in the articles to sustain such charges. Precisely, on June 14, 2006 the decision whereby Audiencia Nacional judge Santiago Pedraz rejected the charges was published. Judge Pedraz considered that, in the said articles, the prisoner expressed his support for the Basque National Liberation Movement -BNLM- which “is not comparable to ETA”. He added that “this movement is not defined as a terrorist organisation” and therefore the crime of issuing terrorist threats was not proven.

At that point a media campaign was unleashed against the judge’s decision. The Minister for Justice stated “we shall build new charges so that they are not released!” The State General Prosecutor, Cándido Conde Pumpido, said “we shall continue to oppose his release insofar as it is legally possible” and appealed Pedraz’s decision. This climate impelled the Third Section of the Audiencia Nacional Penal Court to rectify judge Pedraz’s decision, arguing that De Juana “boasted of and extolled” his membership of ETA in the two articles, the content of which, according to this decision” clearly displays a possible terrorist threat”. Therefore there was a new request for a 96 year prison sentence.

During recent times we have witnessed a brutal initiative supported by the Spanish government and the special antiterrorist court, the Audiencia Nacional, to prevent the release of prisoners who were entitled to immediate release from prison, over and above all basic the principles of law. The Spanish State, for reasons to do with a political revenge, considers that Iñaki de Juana and other political prisoners in a similar situation have not served enough time in jail. Therefore, the Zapatero administration is attempting to instate this situation of de facto life imprisonment against the Basque Political Prisoners’ Collective, violating the universal right to release of those who have served their sentences in full. Furthermore, at this delicate political moment, when there is a possibility to open up a resolution process for the conflict that has confronted the Basque People and the Spanish state for years, the executive is using the prisoners, making a democratic solution to the political conflict more difficult. In these circumstances, Iñaki believes he as no other way forward but to go on an open-ended hunger strike, even if he it takes him to his death. Therefore, we are asking for active solidarity towards Iñaki and we are issuing a call to international public opinion to denounce the lack of consistency of the new charges against him and to demand his right to be released.

This is a call to all groups and people in solidarity, to express their protest to Spanish consulates and embassies and to send their messages to the addresses of the following people, directly responsible for Iñaki de Juana Chaos’ situation.