Expatica news

Garzon barred from quizzing ETA suspects

30 January 2004

MEXICO CITY – Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon was barred from entering the facility to question six suspected members of the armed Basque separatist group ETA, it was reported Friday.

Although the federal Attorney General’s Office gave the green light to Garzon’s investigation in Mexico, prison officials said they denied the judge access because the proper procedures weren’t followed.

Prison spokesman Valentin Perez told EFE Garzon showed up unexpectedly and without the necessary preliminaries.

“We’re not going to allow any situation that stretches the law,” said Perez, who attributed the decision to the Mexico City government.

Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, Mexico’s deputy attorney general for organized crime, said Garzon’s investigations in the country did not in any way violate Mexican law, as he is taking part in the case as an observer.

A press statement from the Attorney General’s Office stated that Garzon’s presence was part of a “mutual court service” solicited by Madrid, in which local prosecutors are questioning witnesses regarding criminal proceedings initiated in Spain.

The statement said the planned interrogations have no connection to Spain’s extradition requests, but rather seek to probe the crime of “belonging to a terrorist organisation.”

“He cannot carry out interrogations by himself,” Santiago said, referring to Garzon. “The only thing he can do is go and observe” while local Mexican prosecutors conduct the questioning.

The six Basques – Asier Arronategui Durade, Ernesto Alberdi Elejalde, Felix Salustiano Garcia Rivera, Juan Carlos Artola Diaz, Maria Asuncion Gorrochategui Vazquez and Jose Maria Urquijo Bordem – have been in jail in Mexico since last July on suspicion of handling financial operations for ETA.

They stand accused of money laundering, belonging to an illegal armed group, handling proceeds of terrorist activity and falsifying documents.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news