Throughout these years Baltasar Garzón has conducted multiple investigations in the field of terrorism. Here are some examples.
• Investigation into the hijacking of the Italian ship Achille Lauro, which occurred on October 7, 1985, in the Bay of Alexandria (Egypt). It was the hijacking of the aforementioned Italian ship by the terrorist group led by Palestinian Abu Abbas in the Bay of Alexandria. The weapons, according to the investigation, were to be delivered to Spain. An American hostage was killed (Leon Klinghoffer).
• Investigation into the crimes attributable to the GAL organization (Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación [Anti-Terrorist Liberation Groups]), who served in the South of France against members of the terrorist organization ETA, from 1983 to 1987. Within this case senior police and politicians were prosecuted and convicted.
• Multiple and repeated investigations on the terrorist organization ETA, and its organizational and financial environment as well as its various manifestations inside and outside Spain.
• Investigations into other Spanish terrorist organizations such as “Exercito do Povo Galego Ceive” until its disappearance.
• Antifascist Groups October First (GRAPO) until today when, in fact, the organization is virtually defunct.
• TERRA LLIURE brought down by his investigations in 1992 and disappeared following the judgment in that summary of the Criminal Chamber of the National Court in 1995.
For ETA, for many of its components and supporters, who also live in Latin American countries, Baltasar Garzón is an unwelcome person that has starred in a relentless struggle to arrest those responsible for nearly a thousand murders committed by the gang from 1961 to 2010. Even now, when the situation in the Basque Country has normalized and local, regional and Spain Congressional institutions include numerous political representatives with nationalist ideology and the like, Garzón remains ill-considered among those who define their ideology close to ETA.
ETA was born in Bilbao on July 31, 1959. The acronym refers to the phrase “Euskadi eta askatasuna” in Basque, which means “Basque Country and Freedom.” In principle, it was a group consisting mainly of radical students who wanted to be an alternative to the PNV (Partido Nacionalista Vasco [Basque Nationalist Party]). Its objectives were transformed over the years but remained since its creation, the demand for the Spanish and French states to recognize the independence of the Basque Country, territory comprising Álava, Guipúzcoa, Vizcaya, Navarre and the French Basque Country.
In 1961 they committed their first attempt on a train of Civil War veterans and arrests and exiles began.
From that date until 1975 the year of the death of the dictator Francisco Franco a total of 43 people were murdered including officials and ordinary citizens. From 1975 until 2020, in the transition to a full democracy, the number of people killed by ETA totalled 823. Among them 483 belonged to State Security or military Forces. The remaining 343 victims were civilians, men, women and children. The gang members have always presented themselves as liberators of the Basque Country or Basque patriots.
From his position at the court of Instruction No. 5 of the High Court, Baltasar Garzón has led numerous investigations on multiple operating groups of the terrorist organization from 1988 to the present and the arrest of those responsible for numerous attacks resulting in deaths, devastation, kidnapping, extortion, threats, fire, damage, interception of explosives, heavy weapons…
To cite only some of Garzón’s operations against these criminal acts, we highlight:
Attacks against the Directorate General of the Civil Guard, bombing in plaza de Ramales, calle Badajoz in Madrid, the Plaza de la República Dominicana, killing of Francisco Tomás y Valiente, ex-president of the Constitutional Court; attack against Manuel Broseta Pons, former minister of the government of Adolfo Suárez; attack on IFEMA installations, attacks on the Guardia Civil barracks in Durango, arrest of those responsible for the abduction of Ortega Lara, release of José Ortega Lara, attack on King Juan Carlos; the investigation and arrest of those responsible for fraud, extortion and international relations of the organization; arrest of those responsible for the recruitment and collaboration with ETA (called “pianists” with more than 100 people already tried which made up the most extensive network of recruitment for this organization).
Garzón has also conducted an investigation of ETA and other satellite organizations that make up the terrorist complex run by the former and which assume the violent “struggle” complementary to the “armed struggle” developed by ETA. This section includes the so-called Kale Borroka or “street fighting” by groups called Y, directed primarily against public and private properties and urban transport related banking or business; as well as all the complementary illegal activities necessary for the activity of the whole social and political fabric that forms the basis of the organization in its more than 40 years of existence.
COMPANIES AND PARTIES
Since 1994 until today, under the same investigation system designed by Garzón, KAS, EKIN, XAKI, JARRAI, SEGI, Gestoras Pro amnistía, ASKATASUNA, EGIN, a network of companies that supported the organization have been investigated.
Also Udalbitza, Herri Batasuna, Euskal Herritarrok, Batasuna, PCTV, ANV, D3m and Askatasuna (political parties) and the Bateragune or Management Committee between ETA’s “military” and political structure. In all these investigations infrastructures were dismantled, unlawful activities have been declared, to the extent that the Supreme Court, having essentially the data accumulated in these investigations and documents, under the Law of Parties, stated the illegality of various formations, with these resolutions confirmed by both the Spanish Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights in rulings in 2009 and 2010.
Also, the Supreme Court ratified various judgments pronounced by the High Court in establishing, as judicial truth, that which was a fact in the reality of the criminal acts of a terrorist organization. This enabled the true scope and size of the criminal structure to be established making its action effective.
In 1998 it increased its activity against the ETA environment. Thus, in the context of a very large operation, it accused the Literacy and Basquisation Coordinator (AEK), a Basque coordinator for Basque adult literacy, of being the financial framework for the terrorist group. Although it failed to show the relationship between the two organizations, there were twelve arrests. That same year the newspaper Egin and the radio station Egin Irratia were closed down, accused of collaborating with ETA.
In April 2001, an order was issued closing the magazine Ardi Beltza (‘Black Sheep’), whose director, Pepe Rei, who had already been processed in the “Egin case”, was arrested and questioned on the grounds that he used this medium for terrorist organization purposes. New evidence against Rei was extracted according to Garzón from the magazine itself and the video that was distributed with it entitled “Journalists, the business of lying”, in which professionals were identified and later targeted by attacks or tracking by ETA members.
In November 2001, Garzón detained and questioned thirteen people linked to the movement Gestoras Pro Amnistía[Managers Pro Amnesty] (Gestorak), one of the strongest nationalist organizations in the framework of the support and struggle for the repatriation of ETA prisoners. The operation, called Udazken (‘Autumn’), involved over two hundred police who practiced early morning arrests in several locations in the Basque provinces and Navarre. At the same time, Garzón ordered the blocking of twenty-two bank accounts belonging to detainees and some companies.
Another of the judge’s actions was the outlawing of Batasuna, in an edict published in Madrid on August 26, 2002, for an alleged crime of forming part of a terrorist organization. Previously, on May 3, 2002, he had issued warrants for the arrest of eleven members of the radical nationalist party.
There are also some resolutions issued by Garzón during the negotiation process of 2006 setting that when these meeting occurred they were not criminal meetings and allowing certain public events calling for peace. The judge was heavily criticized for what represented a commitment to the peace process that was attempted to be developed.
STANDARDISATION OF COEXISTENCE
ETA has currently abandoned the armed struggle and the government and political forces are seeking the final exit to close this long and bloody history. Former terrorists are being released from prison having served their sentences. This situation also causes outrage among relatives of the victims and those victims wounded or injured by the group’s attacks, but the common goal is to achieve standardization of coexistence.
Although in Spain many ETA prisoners responsible for these crimes have come to ask for the forgiveness of their victims, and that in the Basque Country numerous municipalities and other institutions are governed by parties of marked independence, small groups close the old organization, living in American countries claim “Basque liberation from the oppression of the Spanish state.” They promote outdated and anachronistic situations. From these groups sometimes a biased and false accusation is made against Garzón.
The Grupos de Resistencia Antifascista Primero de Octubre [First of October Antifascist Resistance Group] (GRAPO) started from a far left Spanish terrorist organization born in 1975. In 2006, the High Court considered that the GRAPO were the armed wing of the Partido Comunista de España [Communist Party of Spain], PCE (r). Throughout their history they killed more than 80 people, mostly police and military personnel.
In August 1975 the first armed action of this terrorist organization took place in an attack in Madrid against two police officers in which one was killed and his colleague was seriously wounded. After this murder the attacks happened. After the death of Franco in 1975, GRAPO continued to perform increasingly violent terrorist acts, kidnappings and bombings which caused a huge impact on society.
With the amnesty of 1976 and the action of the police, the PCE (r) became a residual and very minority group. The armed actions of GRAPO continued sporadically planting explosives, carrying out assaults and extorting businessmen. In 1976 and 1977 they were behind the kidnapping of the president of the State Council, Antonio María de Oriol y Urquijo, and President of the Supreme Council of Military Justice, Emilio Villaescusa Quilis respectively. On January 18, 1985 in a large police operation in several cities in Spain 18 people were arrested. Even so, they continued their activity as murderers and kidnappers, including businessman Publio Cordon who died during his enforced disappearance.
On March 18, 2003 Baltasar Garzón stopped the activities and ordered the closure of the premises in Spain and abroad of the Partido Comunista de España reconstituido PCE (r) due to considering it the political arm of the Grupos Revolucionarios Antifascistas Primero de Octubre (Grapo) thus adding to the request of the prosecutor Enrique Molina of the High Court, who in October 2002 had submitted a report stating that the central committee of the PCE (r) “ideologically feeds the military arm of the terrorist organization.”
In February 1988, Judge Baltasar Garzón Real, replaced the judge Francisco Castro Meije in the Central Court of Instruction No. 5 of the High Court. Judge Castro was previously in charge of the investigation of the alleged relationship between the Deputy Commissioner of Police Jose Amedo and the Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación [Anti-Terrorist Liberation Groups] (GAL).
Garzón initiated and instructed a number of facts in the “dirty war” against ETA conducted by the Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación (GAL). Among others, he sentenced José Barrionuevo, who was Interior Minister, Rafael Vera, Secretary of State for Security and Julian Sancristóbal Iguarán, Civil Governor of Vizcaya for misappropriation of public funds and kidnapping, as well as police and members of the Guardia Civil.
MORE THAN 30 TERRORIST ACTIONS
The Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación (GAL) were vigilante groups who practiced what so called state terrorism or “dirty war” against the criminal organization ETA and its environment. They were active between 1983 and 1987, during the early years of the governments of Felipe González. During the trial against this organization it was proved that it was funded by senior officials of the Ministry of Interior. Although they claimed to be fighting ETA and “French interests in Europe” by making France accountable for “welcoming and allowing terrorists to act in its territory with impunity”, they also conducted indiscriminate actions due to which French citizens without political known affiliation died.
In its four-year history, the GAL committed more than thirty terrorist acts, killing and wounding around sixty people. Among their usual methods were planting car bombs, shots to the neck and machine gun attacks in bars where they were allegedly ETA members. Several of their victims had no apparent relationship with ETA. In some of these cases, the GAL acknowledged being wrong or apologized.
In December 1983 Segundo Marey, a Spanish-French citizen, was mistaken for a leader of ETA and kidnapped by the GAL in the French town of Hendaye. Several arrests were made for this kidnapping. On December 4, 1987, Talbi Mohand and Jean-Pierre Echalier were tried and sentenced to 12 and 8 years respectively for this kidnapping. Talbi said that they had delivered Marey to Spanish police at the border with Navarre, having called two “emergency phones” after learning of Sanchez’ arrest. One phone belonged to the military government of Vizcaya and the other to the Police Headquarters.
In January 1988 the Criminal Chamber of the High Court found evidence of the criminal actions of the Deputy Commissioner José Amedo, who had been implicated in the murders of GAL in a trial in Lisbon by a few Portuguese mercenaries claiming to have been hired by the deputy commissioner for ETA attacks in the south of France. After his inauguration at the High Court, Baltasar Garzón took over the investigations, discovering that according to a report by the Ministry of Interior Amedo’s trips to Portugal in 1986 were officially paid using reserved State funds. In July of the same year Garzón issued unconditional prison sentences for Amedo and the inspector Michel Dominguez as alleged organizers of the GAL.
The court accused them of conspiracy, stating it was not possible to determine the internal structure, the hierarchy and the sources of funding for GAL, thus stopping the identity of the senior leaders of the two agents in this plot.
SENTENCED TO PRISON
In July 1993 Garzón reopened the record on the kidnapping of Segundo Marey to prevent it lapsing and the thread of the scandals uncovered on the diversion of reserved funds in the investigation into the ex-director of the Guardia Civil, Luis Roldan, looking for any reference to Amedo, Rodriguez and GAL. His investigation of the reserved funds had come across many government obstacles. Garzón had to ask for support from the General Council of the Judiciary.
Finally for the Marey case the Supreme Court sentenced the following to prison for kidnapping and embezzlement of public funds: José Barrionuevo, Minister of Interior; Rafael Vera, Secretary of State for Security; Francisco Alvarez, head of Counter-Terrorism; Miguel Planchuelo, head of the Bilbao Information Brigade; José Amedo, Deputy Commissioner of Police; Julian Sancristobal, civil governor of Vizcaya Ricardo Garcia Damborenea, secretary general of the PSOE in Vizcaya was sentenced to prison for kidnapping; Michel Dominguez, police also went to prison as an accomplice to kidnapping.
In the late 80s and early 90s the magistrate acted on Arab terrorist organizations in the Middle East (Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, Hezbollah). The list of Garzón’s actions in this matter, international terrorism, is summarized below:
• Investigation of the hijacking of the Italian vessel Achille Lauro, which occurred on October 7, 1985, in the Bay of Alexandria (Egypt). It was a hijacking by the terrorist group led by Palestinian Abu Abbas in the Bay of Alexandria of the aforementioned Italian vessel. The weapons, according to the investigation, would have been delivered to Spain. An American citizen (Leon Klinghoffer) and hostage was killed.
• Research on terrorist organizations in North Africa, Algerian such as GIA and the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (Algeria) Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the Moroccan Islamist Combatant Group or Libyan Islamic Combatant Group, now integrated in Al Qaeda; Ansar El Islam in Iraq; Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Persian Gulf, Indonesia, etc.. These investigations were historically the first to be held in Spain and were made by Baltasar Garzón in the Central Court of Instruction No. 5, from 1988, along with other related international terrorism in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia.
• Investigation into the AL QAEDA terrorist network and its implications in Spain and other countries: Afghanistan, Iraq (Nassirya bombing,) Algeria, El Sahel and Morocco (Casablanca bombings in 2003), India (Mumbai attacks), Indonesia, United States (Twin Towers), Syria, Saudi Arabia.
• Different operations like Tigris, or Jackal, related to sending Mujahideen to Iraq, or Nova, related to the attempted bombing of the High Court and in particular against Garzón himself, as recorded in the corresponding summary.
• Investigation into the funding of national and international terrorism by developing coordinated investigation with the three Security Forces in the case of ETA and AL QAEDA and with the different Foreign Intelligence Units as well as the American FBI, INTERPOL, French, Portuguese, Moroccan, British, Belgian and Dutch police among others.