Basque separatist ends legal bid

Published Thursday, 12 June 2014
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A Basque separatist wanted in Spain over a murder and bombing campaign has abandoned a last-ditch legal bid to avoid being extradited from Northern Ireland.

Basque separatist ends legal bid
Vila Michelena was detained by the PSNI four years ago. (© UTV)

Fermin Vila Michelena, 43, was due to seek permission to go before the Supreme Court in London to try to overturn a ruling that he must be returned to face charges connected to terrorist attacks in Madrid.

But it was confirmed by senior judges in Belfast on Thursday that his application is no longer being pursued.

Vila Michelena was detained by the PSNI on a European Arrest Warrant in June 2010.

Spanish authorities want him to stand trial for offences linked to the Basque separatist group ETA.

The charges relate to separate killings of a military general and police officer in Madrid 11 years ago.

He is also being sought in connection with a car bomb attack on a bank in the Spanish capital in 2001 which injured 18 people and caused €1.7m damage.

Further allegations include attempted murder, possession of explosives, causing terrorist havoc, and forgery.

His extradition was ordered in October 2012 following a hearing at Belfast Recorders' Court.

However, the removal was then put on hold pending the outcome of an appeal to the High Court.

His lawyers claimed evidence against him had been obtained by Spanish police torturing two co-accused.

One of them, a woman, alleged officers threatened to kill her, pulled her hair and punched her repeatedly about the head.

Her initial detention period was said to have lasted for up to five days.

It was argued that the Recorder failed to properly consider how the other co-accused retracted his admission statement, claiming he had been tortured too.

According to Vila Michelana's lawyers, it would be unconscionable to permit his extradition in those circumstances.

They also argued that he would be denied his right to a fair trial, and that warrants had been issued to punish him over his political support for Basque independence.

Last month, a panel of High Court judges rejected all grounds of appeal.

They said there was nothing to suggest he would be denied a fair trial in Spain.

Allegations of torture were held to be either completely unsupported, untested or uncorroborated.

With confirmation that a Supreme Court challenge has been withdrawn, the path is now clear for Vila Michelena's extradition to finally proceed.

© UTV News
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