Northern Ireland

Basque man appeals against extradition to Spain

A Spanish man fighting extradition from NI over a terrorist murder and bombing campaign, was allegedly tortured, the High Court has heard.

Fermin Vila Michelena, 42, is seeking to overturn a ruling that he be returned to Spain.

Authorities there want him to stand trial for offences linked to the Basque separatist group ETA.

The case was adjourned until January. Mr Vila Michelena will remain in custody until then.

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

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


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

Mr Vila Michelena was detained by the PSNI on a European Arrest warrant.

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

However, his removal has been put on hold pending the outcome of an appeal to the High Court.

Mr Vila Michelena's legal team isseeking to show that statements issued against him by two co-accused were obtained through the use of torture or inhuman treatment.

Senior judges heard details of the alleged ill-treatment they suffered while in the custody of Spanish police.

'Head hurting'

Barry Macdonald QC set out how one of the co-accused, a woman, claimed officers threatened to kill her, pulled her hair and punched her repeatedly.

"There is reference to being hit on both sides of the head, (she says) 'My head was hurting, I couldn't see properly'," the barrister told the court.

In another part of her statement she claimed to have been surrounded by people before "the madman" began assaulting her.

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

Mr Macdonald argued that the lower court failed to properly consider how the other co-accused retracted his admission statement, claiming he had been tortured too.