Spanish guards cleared of torturing ETA detainees

15th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spain's high court acquitted Tuesday four civil guards who had been convicted last year of torturing two members of the armed Basque separatist group ETA in their custody.

The court's five judges agreed with the guards' argument that ETA militants claim to be "tortured systematically" was part of "a political-military strategy and procedure," according to the text of the verdict.

The detainees' injuries could have been caused by "a violent arrest after which the ETA members took flight", rather than by torture committed the day after their arrest as the detainees claimed, the guards' defence team said.

In December 2010 the four guards had been found guilty by a court in San Sebastien of "serious torture" when arresting Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola in January 2008 at Mondragon in Spain's Basque region and also during theirtransfers.

The day after his arrest Portu had to be admitted to hospital, suffering from several injuries.

The two ETA members were later convicted and jailed for taking part in the December 2006 attack at Madrid airport that killed two people and brought an end to ETA's nine-month truce.

Initially a total of 15 guards were accused of torturing the pair but 11 of them were later acquitted.

Last month ETA declared a definitive end to its campaign of violence for an independent Basque homeland after nearly four decades of bombing and shooting that claimed 829 lives.

© 2011 AFP

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