The Council of Ministers, at the proposal of Acting Justice Minister Dolores Delgado, has asked France for the extradition of ETA member José Antonio Urruticoechea Bengoechea, 'Josu Ternera', arrested in France on May 19.
The request for extradition comes from the Central Court of Instruction No. 2 of the National Court where he is charged with the alleged crime of terrorist attack resulting in death, ten crimes of murder and 63 crimes of attempted murder.
The facts that are investigated in this case correspond to the car bomb attack against the Civil Guard Barracks House in Zaragoza, committed on December 11, 1987. Urruticoechea Bengoechea, who at that time was a member of the executive committee of the terrorist organization , allegedly participated in the placement of a car bomb with about 250 kilograms of explosive (ammonium) whose explosion caused the death of 11 people (including several children), caused injuries to 73 others and caused substantial material damage.
The ETA leader was arrested in France on May 19 to serve a sentence of eight years in prison imposed by the French justice in June 2017 for his membership in the political apparatus of the terrorist group. However, the Court of Appeal of Paris ordered his probation by means of a permanent telematic device due to his health problems, in addition to imposing, as a precautionary measure, weekly appearances in a police station in the capital.
Urruticoechea Bengoechea was again sent to prison – this time for extradition – on June 19 after the National Audience Prosecutor's Office reminded the French authorities that several European orders of arrest and surrender (OEDE) were in force against the. He then began to count a period of 40 days to send the extradition request to the neighboring country, a term that expires on July 29.
Dolores Delgado, who has taken her proposal in hand to the Council of Ministers held this morning, has also reported another of the cases opened against the ETA leader and that will also require an agreement by the Council of Ministers requesting the extradition. This is the murder of Luis María Hergueta, manager of the Michelin factory in Vitoria who was shot dead in the vicinity of his home on June 25, 1980. Urruticoechea is imprisoned for these facts in the Central Court of Instruction 1 of the National Court, where he is charged with a crime of terrorist murder.
In these two cases does not apply the procedure of the European Order of Detention and Delivery (OEDE) – the usual among the Member States of the European Union and much more agile – because French law prevents resort to this last instrument of community cooperation for criminal acts prior to November 1, 1993.
Once the extradition of Urruticoechea has been requested by the Council of Ministers, the documentation of the case will be sent by diplomatic bag to France so that the Spanish magistrate of liaison in Paris will send it to the courts of that country.
In addition to these two processes, in the National Court there are two other open cases for which it is claimed but which, when processed by the OEDE procedure, will not require the intervention of the Council of Ministers. The first comes from the Central Court of Instruction 3 for an alleged crime against humanity. The Central Court of Instruction 5 keeps a second one open for financing terrorism.