17 years ago, Mikel Iribarren was a young healthy man who happened to suffer a brutal agression by anti-riot police while demonstrating in Pamplona. He was so badly injured by the direct shot to his face of a smoke canister that was even considered dead. Since then he's been attempting recovery with continuous surgical treatments that can only do so much. But he's also been fighting legally for that agression to be punished. All these years he's been going to court to no avail, with the trials continuously delayed and finally absolving the defendants. Typical Spanish, typical Spanish "democracy".
But outside Spain they seem to see these issues with different eyes and much more legal rigor. Yesterday the European Tribunal of Human Rights ruled that Spain has violated articles 3 and 6 of the European Convention by imposing Iribarren an unjust and degrading treatment and by delaying the trial. It sentences Spain to pay 170,000 euros to the Basque citizen in compensation. It is a rather historical ruling, as there appear to be very few sentences of this kind.
But it is extremely sad that in order to get justice one has to be fighting for 17 years.The case could never be brought to a criminal tribunal because the Spanish police simply rejected to determine who was the author of the aggresion (they normally go masked and never show identification of any sort - but, if the judges would have insisted, rejecting to report that would be contempt of court and complicty with a presumpt criminal).
This case of police terror was not isolated in that time. In that same demonstration, another young man was severely injured as well. Two years later, Txuma Olaberri was brought to coma and disabled for life, and in the same period a smoke canister entered a private home by the window and killed an elderly man, Alejandro Gorraiz.