U.N. Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1994/31 (1994)(Nigel Rodley, Special Rapporteur).


Information transmitted to the Government and replies received

482. By letter dated 26 August 1993 the Special Rapporteur advised the Government that he had received information according to which although article 520 of the Criminal Procedure Act provided for a period of 72 hours before a detainee had to be brought before the court, articles 520 bis and 527 altered this rule with respect to persons detained under suspicion of collaboration with or membership of armed bands or terrorist groups. Thus, the period of 72 hours might be extended by another 48 hours pending a court order and at the request of the police, who were not required to bring the detainee in person before the court in order to obtain the order. Moreover, throughout this period, the detainee might be kept incommunicado, which meant in particular that he was denied the assistance of a lawyer of his choice and could not inform his family or friends of his place of detention. According to the sources, this legal situation facilitated the practice of torture and ill-treatment.

483. It was also reported that law enforcement officials who had been condemned for torture of ill-treatment of detainees had in some cases remained in active service and had sometimes been promoted or pardoned. Moreover, no precautionary measures had been taken, such as suspension from duty while the matter was still pending, even though a particular case could take years to solve.

484. The Special Rapporteur also informed the Government about allegations received on the cases described in the following paragraphs, to which the Government replied on 13 December 1993.

485. Kepa Urra Guridi was arrested on 29 January 1992 by the Civil Guard in Basauri. According to reports he was taken to the woods for approximately one hour before being taken to La Salve barracks. Some eight hours later he was admitted to the Hospital Civil de Basurto which reported numerous bruises on the face, hands, wrists, legs and thighs, with damage to the muscle tissue. Two neck injuries were subsequently diagnosed. According to statements made by Mr. Urra two days later, the bruises were the result of beatings inflicted after his arrest. He also claimed to have been subjected to suffocation with a plastic bag over the head, as well as to mock executions. Examining Magistrate No. 8 of Bilbao opened a judicial inquiry with respect to these claims of torture.

486. With respect to this case the Government sent a report issued by the Civil Guard according to which at the moment of the arrest, as well as during the transfer from Basauri to La Salve barracks, Mr. Urra Guridi violently confronted the arresting agents, who had to use physical force in order to carry out the arrest. Any injury sustained by Mr. Urra was, therefore, the result of this struggle. While in the barracks he was found lying on the ground of his cell and was immediately taken to hospital, since a doctor diagnosed cardiac arrhythmia. In the context of the judicial investigation being carried out following the complaint filed by his wife, several members of the forces which took part in the arrest were requested to make statements before Magistrate No. 8. No charges had, however, been brought against any particular agent. The contents of the medical reports were not known.

487. On the other hand, the Government also provided the Special Rapporteur with a copy of a report sent to Magistrate No. 8 by the Chief Attorney of Bilbao indicating the circumstances in which Mr. Urra was arrested. The report also indicated that representatives of judicial authorities who visited Mr. Urra at the Basurto hospital on 30 January 1992 found that he was in a situation of total disorientation and that he bore multiple injuries and bruises of recent origin. A few hours later a nurse who was urgently called to Mr. Urra's room, found there two men who identified themselves as members of the Civil Guard and saw that the detainee had blood in his mouth. He was subsequently examined by a forensic physician who also found multiple injuries and bruises. When asked about their origin the detainee gave a full account of the treatment to which he had been subjected, including beatings, suffocation and death threats. He indicated that the ill-treatment had continued at the hospital. A copy of the medical report containing all the details of Mr. Urra's state of health was also provided by the Government.

488. Manuel Muiños García, an inmate at Puerto-2 prison, Cádiz, was reported to have been brutally beaten on 14 August 1992 by prison officials who tried to tie him to his bed, apparently as a punishment for having insulted them. As a result of this assault Manuel Muiños reportedly suffered a broken nose and split lips, and one of his eyes was totally closed by swelling. In this state, he allegedly remained tied to his bed for several hours before he was seen by a doctor. On the following day he was transferred to Valencia prison. A claim of ill-treatment was lodged with the Prison Inspection Judge of Valencia.

489. With respect to this case the Government provided a report issued by the "Dirección General de Instituciones Penitenciarias" indicating that Mr. Muiños had attacked several members of the prison staff. As a result of the struggle which followed four agents as well as the prisoner had had to be taken care of at the prison's medical service for slight injuries.

490. Eduardo Basabe Larrinaga and Germán Cristóbal Aznar were reportedly beaten severely during their transfer from Ocaña 1 prison in Cuenca to Nanclares de Oca prison in Alava by the Civil Guards responsible for escorting them on 17 August 1992. The family lodged a complaint with the court of Gasteiz on 27 August 1992.

491. Pako Etxebeste Arozena, an inmate at the provincial prison of Martutene-Donostia, was reported to have been severely beaten during his transfer from Burgos prison on 18 August 1992, as a result of which he suffered injuries to one eye and to the jaw area, and multiple bruises to the head. The family filed a complaint with Court of Investigation No. 2 at San Sebastián on 19 October 1992.

492. Regarding the above three cases the Government forwarded a report made by the 111 post of the Civil Guard indicating that judicial authorities had requested information about the identity of the agents who took part in the said transfers and had questioned some of them. However, nobody had been found responsible yet in connection with the alleged torture and, therefore, no disciplinary sanctions had been imposed. It was also reported that the medical reports issued on their arrival at the above-mentioned prisons did not indicate any signs of injuries.

493. Arnaldo Otegi Mondragón was reportedly beaten up by a group of five Civil Guards on 10 September 1992 upon arrival at Herrera de la Mancha penitentiary centre from the provincial prison of Ciudad Real. On 15 September he was transferred to Alcalá-Meco penitentiary centre where he was once again the victim of aggression.

494. With respect to this case the Government sent a report of the 111 post of the Civil Guard indicating that Mr. Otegi had attacked an agent who had proceeded to search him at his arrival at Herrera de la Mancha prison. A complaint had been filed with the Examining Magistrate No. 1 of Ciudad Real. On 15 September 1992 he was transferred from the Alcalá-Meco prison to the Zaragoza prison. Subsequently, judicial authorities requested information from the Civil Guard about the identity of the agents who took part in the transfers between the provincial prison of Ciudad Real and the Herrera de la Mancha penitentiary centre, as well as between the Alcalá-Meco prison and the Zaragoza prison. However, nobody had been found responsible yet in connection with the alleged torture and, therefore, no disciplinary sanctions had been imposed. It was further reported that the medical report issued on arrival at the Madrid prison indicated bruises on the upper lip.

495. Koldo Arrese Garate, an inmate of the prison of Daroca in Zaragoza, was reported to have been severely beaten, notably with an iron rod, by prison officials and members of the Civil Guard on 12 September 1992. The prison doctor diagnosed numerous injuries to the arms, shoulders, knees and genital area resulting from this beating. The family was also able to observe these injuries during a visit which took place one week after the above events. On 30 September 1992 a complaint was filed with the Prison Inspection Judge of Zaragoza.

496. With respect to this case the Government provided information about the riots which took place in the Daroca prison, in the context of which Mr. Arrese seemed to have been injured. Mr. Arrese's name, however, did not appear in the initial list of inmates who were injured following the intervention of the forces of order. Mr. Arrese filed a complaint with the Daroca Examining Magistrate on 18 September 1992. However, the judicial investigation still continued. Further information provided by the Government indicated that, according to the medical report, Mr. Arrese had multiple bruises on several parts of his body.

497. Imanol Txabarri, under house arrest in the French town of Cahors, was handed over to the Civil Guard on 10 July 1993 and transferred to the headquarters of the Civil Guard in Madrid. According to his statements made before the regular judge of Central Court No. 2 of the National High Court on 13 July, Mr. Txabarri was allegedly beaten repeatedly on the head and testicles, and was kept blindfolded throughout the period of his detention.

498. Regarding this case the Government replied that the allegations of ill-treatment were false. Mr. Txabarri had been examined by a forensic physician of the Figueras and La Bisbal Courts who certified that there were no marks of injuries. A second medical examination was carried out on 11 July 1993 by the forensic physician of the "Audiencia Nacional", the results of which were not known. No member of the Civil Guard had been charged in connection with the said allegations.

499. The Government also provided the Special Rapporteur with information about article 520 and other articles of the Criminal Procedure Act, designed to protect the rights of detainees. Only in the cases of organized crime was the judge allowed, at the request of the police, to extend the duration of detention to a maximum of five days and to order that the detainee be kept incommunicado. Even in these cases, however, the detainee was not deprived of legal assistance and was entitled to daily medical examinations. It was mentioned that complaints of torture or ill-treatment were commonly filed by members of the ETA terrorist group as a strategy to undermine the reputation of the Forces of Order. In addition to this, the Government provided a list of 30 officials convicted of torture in trials held since the beginning of the 1980s.

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