De Juana Chaos may face extradition from N Ireland

11th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

A Belfast court says the convicted ETA member may be sent back to Spain as a Basque phrase allegedly used in a letter read in his name can be considered an extraditable offence.

BELFAST – A convicted member of Basque separatist group ETA moved a step closer to extradition from Northern Ireland on Tuesday, as a judge ruled that he wrote a letter exhorting a terror attack.

Lawyers for Jose Ignacio de Juana Chaos were told at a court hearing in Belfast that he will be sent to face prosecution in Spain unless they can overcome a legal bar to having the procedure halted.

The key to Spain's extradition request for De Juana Chaos, who served 21 years in prison for involvement in 25 murders, is a letter read out at a rally in San Sebastian in August.

The letter was allegedly read aloud in his name, with the charges against him hinging on the use of the Basque phrase aurrrea bolie, which translates as kick the ball forward.

De Juana Chaos' legal team argued that the extradition warrant issued against him was defective.

His lawyers also claimed extradition could not be covered by the alleged offence of publicly justifying terrorism because there was no equivalent crime in British law.

Judge Tom Burgess accepted that the expression aurrrea bolie formed the core of the Spanish authorities' case.

He said that given the meanings attributed to the statements such words could properly fall to be considered as an offence under Section 1 of the 2006 Act.

"Therefore the alleged offence is an extraditable offence."

De Juana Chaos denies writing the letter. His lawyer Edward Fitzgerald said the move would be contested on human rights grounds at the next court hearing in May.

AFP / Expatica

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