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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Political trial against town councilors' association: no right to defense

The trial against the Basque elected councilors' organization Udalbiltza (from 'udal': municipal government and 'biltza(tu)': to gather) is set to begin at Madrid next July 15.

22 people, including 15 former councilors and four former mayors, stand accused of "membership in ETA" and "misuse of public funds" in yet another instance of political trial under the doctrine that "all is ETA".

Yesterday the accused denounced that their right to defense has been radically constricted, with the Spanish Audiencia Nacional (alias the Inquisition) denying all documentary evidence and most of the 140 witnesses of the defense.

Among the witnesses rejected by the infamous tribunal are former US senator Pete Cenarruza, Verena Graf, secretary general of the League for the Rights and Liberation of the Peoples, Scottish MP Lloyd Quinan and the vice-president of the Sami Parliament Johan Mikkel Sara, Irish priest Alec Reid and representatives of the Euskal Etxeak (Basque associations) from several American countries, all of which had relations with the organization.

Also witnesses from various parties who took part in the formation of Udalbiltza, who could explain how the organization was created on plural and representative basis in 1999, before it split in two, have been rejected. Similarly, none of the representatives of the many social agents that collaborated with Udalbiltza has been admitted as witness. These included the Royal Academy of the Basque Language (Euskaltzaindia), Basque language schools' associations, Basque language adult literacy network AEK, the Basque Association of Climatology and Meteorology, etc.

Other rejected witnesses are representatives of Zuberoa Garatzen, the Northern Basque association for the development of Zuberoa (Soule), which was the destinatary of most of those "misused" public funds. Nor have been accepted as witnesses Basque intellectuals and artists who would have explained why the Basque Identity Card (EHNA) was promoted.

Additionally, the Spanish political court has not admitted even one of the 165 documentary proofs of the defense and has rejected to order two legal assessments which would have been elaborated by academics on "antecedents and processes of creation of supra-municipal organization and trans-border collaboration in the Basque Country" and "questions on the Consortium and Udalbiltza".

Essentially the accused have been denied all their defense, with only 20 witnesses being accepted.

Udalbiltza was formed in 1999 by Basque municipal elects (councilors and mayors) on voluntary basis and originally included all representatives from the various nationalist parties, which represent a clear majority in the country. Some time later, the divergences between the two main blocs led to its division. In 2003, in the post-9/11 fever of "war on terror", which in Spain meant a madness of legal and judicial interventions against Basque social and political life, under the doctrine of "all is ETA", the remaining active Udalbiltza was indicted. Seven years later, the trial is finally to take place with no guarantees whatsoever.

Source: Gara.

Update (Jul 9): A Platform of Solidarity with the Accused in the Udalbiltza Case has been formed in Madrid, Spain, report La Haine and Nodo50.

Also, if you can read Spanish, you can find more info in this ad-hoc blog.

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