A FORMER member of Basque separatist group ETA has been rearrested after losing an appeal to the Spanish Supreme Court. 

The Supreme Court refused the request of ETA member Xabier Atristain to review his conviction on Wednesday, June 1 and he was rearrested the following day in San Sebastian.

He had been released from prison on February 17 after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg ruled that Spain’s refusal to allow Atristain to consult a lawyer and holding him incommunicado before his trial may have influenced his initial confession.

The member of the seperatist group was arrested in 2010 under terrorism charges and sentenced to 17 years in prison. 

It was ruled that the statements he gave while incommunicado in the police station led to officers finding evidence of explosive materials. 

The ECHR ordered Spain to pay him €12,000 in compensation for moral damages and €8,000 for expenses and fees. 

Atristain subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court to review his 17 year sentence, arguing that the way he was treated by the Spanish authorities before his trial ‘undermined the fairness of the subsequent criminal proceeding’.

The Supreme Court dismissed the request on the grounds that even if the ETA member had been allowed to consult a lawyer, incriminating statements from co defendants would have been sufficient to reach the same sentence.

During its 43-year-long unsuccessful mission to achieve independence for the northern region  of the Basque Country from the rest of Spain, ETA killed over 800 people with thousands more injured.

A ceasefire was declared by ETA in 2010 and the group disbanded after the trial and arrests of its leaders in 2018.


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