Spaniard Mikel Irastorza, once considered a leader of ETA, was sentenced in Paris

Once presented as one of the leaders of ETA, Mikel Irastorza was sentenced on Thursday January 5 in Paris to three years in prison, including 19 months in prison for the terrorist criminal association, not as a leader but as a simple “active Memberof the separatist organization between 2012 and 2016.

The 47-year-old Spaniard, who is now a journalist for a Basque media, appeared in the early afternoon at the helm of the 16th correctional room of the capital’s court, speaking in his native language in aid an interpreter. His arrest in November 2016, in the house of a couple who hosted him in Ascain (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), caused an uproar: then the Spanish Ministry of the Interior presented him as “the top leader of the terrorist group ETA who escaped justice“.

At the time, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), responsible for at least 829 deaths in more than 40 years, called in 2011 to end the armed struggle. In 2017 the separatist organization announced the “total disarmamentbefore, in 2018, its dissolution was declared.

Indicted shortly after his arrest, Mikel Irastorza is suspected of leading ETA’s logistics apparatus and succeeding Iratxe Sorzabal and David Pla, two suspected ETA leaders, following their arrest in September 2015 in France. But at the end of the judicial investigation, the investigating judge pointed out that the investigations did not make it possible to “define their role” within ETA: he was sent back to court for being a simple “active Member“. The Franco-Spanish couple who hosted him, indicted for terrorist criminal association, benefited from a dismissal.


During the search of the house, computers and hard drives were seized, as well as computer encryption tools. These media contain documentationconsequenceof ETA regarding, among other things, the preparation of false documents, weapons and explosives, reminding the president of the court.

The defendant’s DNA also had “matchin files with genetic records from 2012 and 2013, in two previous investigations targeting etarras.v Released in August 2017, Mikel Irastorza appeared on the stand asfreedom activist“while repeating that never happened”member of no structure“and”let alone number one in anything“.

This dark-haired man, wearing jeans and a tricolor sweater, with a clean record, said he had “appointmentwith ETA members inlate summer 2012“, in the context of “peace process“. Then follow according to himhow many months“of”training” in “underground life, computing, political debates“but”never military training“. He made sure he was gone”news” of the organization until 2016, where he was “asked to keep equipment belonging to ETA“, a “bagcontains computer equipment found in the search.

A version that was little tasted by the prosecutor of the national anti-terrorism prosecution (Pnat), who requested against him five years in prison, including 20 months of company, as well as an entry in the file of perpetrators of offenses of terrorist (Fijait). “The proceedings show that he was in contact with many individual members of ETA, some of the highest ranks“, he further argued, citing a “constant desire to hide one’s affairs“, a “mastery of cryptology technologies” and the “continued adherence to the Basque nationalist cause“.

In the beginning, Mr. Irastorza was presented as number one in ETA. This is completely wrong“, Me Serge Portelli pleaded for the defense. “What we ask of you is to study what happened with this method. Almost nothing, so admit it“, he launched.

After a brief adjournment, the court issued its verdict in the evening. The fixed part of the sentence corresponds to the months of pre-trial detention and electronic bracelet that the defendant has already served: therefore he does not have to serve it. Mikel Irastorza is also not registered in Fijait, like most of those convicted of this type of offense.

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