Spanish Civil Guard arrest eight in raids on new Basque newspaper
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Publié le 17/10/03 8:54 -- mis à jour le 00/00/00 00:00

Spanish Civil Guard arrest eight in raids on new Basque newspaper

Brussel/Bruxelles 16/10/03, by Alexia Bos Solé

The Spanish Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) has arrested eight people in Nafarroa (Navarre) and Gipuzkoa on raids on homes and offices as part of an operation against the managerial body supporting the closed Basque daily Euskaldunon Egunkaria.

Arrested this morning were: Xabier Legarra, accountant of the company Zabaltzen; Mikel Sorzabal, the manager of the Basque Fundación Kultirgintza; Mikel Agirrezabalaga and José Mari Sors Bagués, managers of the editorial company Zabaltzen; Armando Hernandez; Joan Mari Larrarte, spokesman for Egunkaria former workers; Mikel Azcune; Angel Ramon Diez, worker of the company Gráficas Lizarra. In the same operation, the headquarters of Berria in Andoain (formerly Egunkaria’s premises) have been searched as well as the ones of the editorial company Zabaltzen in Donostia.

The raids lasted for four hours this morning and the police took several boxes of documents. Some of the arrested people are board members of the recently launched Basque language newspaper Berria, which replaced Egunero and the closed Egunkaria.

According to Spanish Home Ministry sources published today in the Basque media, judge Juan del Olmo, who ordered the closure of Egunkaria on 20th February 2003, launched this operation against the companies connected with Egunkaria. These government sources stated that the operation ‘is related to private societies acting as a front for money laundering and other financial irregularities connected to Egunkaria.’

Speaking to Euskal Irrati (Radio Euskadi), Miren Azkarate, head of the Basque government’s Consejeria de Cultura, pointed out that eight months after the closure of Egunkaria nothing has been proved against the arrested and imprisoned people. She said that three people still remain in jail and stressed that ‘if a judge thinks that there are signs of culpability, it is legitimate to investigate, but guilt is what must be proved and not innocence, since we are all innocent from the beginning.’

Speaking to Eurolang, Mr. Jonan Fernández, co-ordinator of the Basque organisation Elkarri (which promotes the social movement for dialogue and agreement in the Basque Country) expressed his concern about the arrests. Fernández stated that for a long time the judicial operations carried out in Euskal Herria are ‘doubtful and questionable’ and blamed the Spanish Partido Popular government for the current tense situation in the Basque Country. Mr. Fernández concluded that ‘we do not trust this judicial operation’, referring to today’s raids.

Basque MEP Koldo Gorostiaga told Eurolang that he regretted 'the incapacity of the Spanish government to accept that the Basque culture and language is in Basque hands'. He continued that 'all the people working in favour of the Basque language and culture are suspicious in the eyes of the Spanish law'. Mr Gorostiaga asked for 'everybody’s solidarity - particularly for the solidarity of those working in favour of minority languages.'(EL)

Eurolang? is a specialist niche news agency covering topics related to lesser-used languages, linguistic diversity, stateless nations and national minorities within the European Union. It provides an expanding on-line daily service across Europe, to NGOs, the media, European, State and local government, academia, researchers and the general public. The purpose of Eurolang is to provide, on a daily basis, relevant and current news about Europe's regional, stateless and minority language communities, numbering some 46 million speakers, to the general public and to national and regional media (newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, internet media) in Europe and worldwide.
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