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.