Ghent court orders extradition of accused ETA terrorist

Ghent court orders extradition of accused ETA terrorist
Accused terrorist Natividad Jáuregui.

The court of appeal in Ghent has approved the extradition to Spain of Natividad Jáuregui, an alleged Basque terrorist who has been on the run since 1979.

Jáuregui is accused of being a member of the Vizcaya Command, a branch of the Basque terrorist group ETA, which was responsible for terrorist attacks, including the killing of six security agents in 1981.

She was already wanted at that time, for crimes committed in 1979. She has never been on trial in all that time. She is known to have lived for a time in Mexico for 14 years and in France for four, and had been living openly in Ghent for about a decade when she was first arrested in 2013.

She was not registered with the municipality, but she was registered under her own name with the social security authorities, her lawyer told the Spanish news agency EFE. In her time in Ghent, she worked as a chef, and even contributed to a book compiling recipes from chefs of different nationalities.

Spain first applied to have her extradited in 2004, a year after she surfaced in Ghent, but a court denied the request, convinced by defence arguments that she would be subject as an accused terrorist to a violation of her human rights.

Spain tried again in 2004 and 2015, again without success. Then in 2016 the family of one of the murdered agents, Romeo Rotaoche, took the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. In July last year, the Court found against Belgium, ruling that the authorities had not done enough to investigate the claims of the defence before turning down the Spanish government’s requests.

Belgium was ordered to pay damages to the family.

But the Strasbourg ruling would have repercussions for the extradition request, and allowed the court of appeal in Ghent last week to approve the latest application.

According to her lawyer, Paul Bekaert – who also represents the exiled Catalan independence politicians wanted by Spain – the story is not over.

"This decision is not final,” he told EFE. “We are going to appeal to the Cassation Court.”

That court, however, will not concern itself with the basic matter – the question of the extradition itself – but only with the question of whether the correct legal procedures were followed leading up to the appeal court’s ruling.

Alan Hope

The Brussels Times

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