Thursday, August 18

The Supreme Court does not see the reason for the acquittal of ‘Kubati’ for a double murder

José Antonio López Ruiz, alias ‘Kubati’. / CE

The Criminal Chamber orders the National Court to write another sentence on the murder of two civil guards in 1986 in Guipúzcoa, for which the bloodthirsty ETA gunman and José Miguel Latasa, ‘Fermín’, were tried

Matthew Balin

The Supreme Court has annulled for lack of reasoning the sentence of the National Court, of October 14, 2020, which acquitted the ETA members José Miguel Latasa Guetaria, alias ‘Fermín’, and José Antonio López Ruiz, alias ‘Kubati’, of an attack that cost the lives of two civil guards perpetrated on July 26, 1986 in Arechavaleta (Guipúzcoa).

The Criminal Chamber has considered the appeal of the relative of one of the deceased agents, as a private accusation, and has ordered the National Court that, by the same magistrates, dictate a new sentence that is “respectful” with the fundamental right to effective judicial protection, which was violated by the lack of a sufficient explanation of the acquittals.

The deceased civil guards were Ignacio Mateu Isturiz and Adrián González Revilla. The summary for this attack had been reopened for the fourth time. Both the Prosecutor’s Office and the accusations had requested sentences of 66 years for each of the two defendants for two murders and a crime of attempted terrorist acts. In addition, they requested compensation of 500,000 euros. The two defendants are on provisional release for this process.

The ruling of the Supreme Court, for which Judge Julián Sánchez Melgar has been a rapporteur, highlights that the central issue of the appeal of the private accusation is to consider the argument of the Court illogical when it rules out that the accused could intervene in two attacks committed within a period brief period of time in Ordizia and Arechavaleta -the latter being the court in this case-, and the first for which both were convicted. Both were carried out by means of explosive devices equipped with timers between 10:30 p.m. on July 25, 1986 and 3 a.m. the next day, July 26.

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The appellant emphasizes that the fact of committing an attack in Ordizia, triggered by a timer, does not automatically exclude, as the Court does, participation in the Arechavaleta attack, in which timers were also used.

The Supreme Court indicates that it is significant that two prints of the left middle finger of ‘Fermín’ and one of the left index finger of ‘Kubati’ were found in the tube used in the Arechavaleta attack, “which is undoubtedly an indication that proves the participation of Latasa and López Ruiz in the placement or transport of the launching tubes stationed in a tree and placed in a rudimentary way”.

“The issue -adds the sentence- is that the trial court does not reason why such an indication, of undoubted proving intensity, in order to the criminal participation of the accused, does not serve to reach such purpose, an aspect in which the The judgment appealed against does not follow an argument that can be taken as reasonable”.

Possible cooperation

The resolution adds that the Court says that it is “unlikely” that the two defendants participated in the Ordizia attack and then in the Arechavaleta attack, but that it does not explain why, limiting itself to pointing out that certain extremes have not been proven, “but neither does it justify such an assertion, it is limited to its affirmation, and this despite the skills exposed”.

For the Supreme Court, the most substantial point is that the National High Court does not even consider that the two defendants could ‘collaborate’ with the attack, “without even needing to be present in Arechavaleta, cooperation as essential as the contribution of explosive material or the tools used in its execution”. He understands that in this way the criminal participation of the accused was not assessed, deduced from the proven fact of their intervention in the preparation of the instruments with which the attack was carried out.

In the same way, it underlines that it is not explained how, if the judgment under appeal says that it takes about 35/45 minutes to go from one town to another, why they would not have had time to carry out both actions, since His fingerprints appeared on the instruments used for his execution, taking into account that the Court itself acknowledges that they could have moved to Arechavaleta and placed the artifacts.

For all these reasons, the Chamber indicates that the sentence must be repeated by the same magistrates of the Second Criminal Section (in which José Ricardo de Prada is found) to carry out the necessary explanations “in a way that satisfies the right to effective judicial protection” and the trial of authorship in these actions can be resolved.

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