Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Monday, 1 March 2010

Extradition for Basque separatist De Juana Chaos

Jose Ignacio de Juana Chaos outside court on Friday
Jose Ignacio de Juana Chaos has seven days to appeal

A court in Belfast has ordered the extradition of a Basque separatist convicted of 25 murders in Spain.

The judge rejected Jose Ignacio de Juana Chaos's claim he would not get a fair trial and may face harsher punishment for his political beliefs.

His lawyers argued further imprisonment would be inhumane and his life was at risk because of fragile mental health.

Judge Burgess said he had confidence in the Spanish justice system because of European Arrest Warrant procedures.

De Juana Chaos, 54, was released from prison in August 2008 after serving more than 21 years in jail for his part in an ETA campaign of murders.

Basque phrase

He is wanted in Spain over the contents of a letter read out at a rally in San Sebastian the day after his release from jail.

The message was allegedly given in his name, with the charge against him heavily dependent on the Basque phrase "aurrera bolie", which translates literally as "kick the ball forward".

He faces the possibility of further imprisonment if convicted of the public justification of terrorist actions which caused humiliation and intensified the grief of victims and their relatives.

De Juana Chaos has been living with his wife in west Belfast on bail while fighting extradition, and has seven days to lodge an appeal to the ruling.

Recorder Tom Burgess told the court on Monday he was satisfied De Juana Chaos's concerns were groundless that Spanish authorities "would seek to put him on trial for any offence other than that which is included in the warrant".

He said if convicted, he did not believe the court would "seek to exceed its sentencing powers of two years".

'Beaten repeatedly'

Lawyers for De Juana Chaos had told the court that during a previous imprisonment, he was beaten repeatedly and subjected to 17 years of solitary confinement.

The alleged assaults and ill-treatment at prisons in mainland Spain and on the Canary Islands between 1987 and 1998 led to symptoms including anxiety and sleep deprivation, they said.

The court was told De Juana Chaos, who had endured previous lengthy hunger strikes, would suffer a serious deterioration in his health and likely death if sent back to jail there.

Judge Burgess said there was no evidence that he would not receive a fair trial, and he could seek bail from the courts in Spain.

He recognised the potential impact if he were to be sent back to jail, especially if put in solitary confinement, but added that if he engaged with the Spanish judicial system, arguments could be advanced for why he should be granted bail.

He said questions about his mental state should be left to the Spanish authorities.

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