Swiss officials announced on Thursday they would extradite a former Basque politician and purported ETA activist to Spain after denying her request for asylum given allegations she was brutally tortured while in a Spanish prison.
Nekane Txapartegi had fled to Switzerland after a 2007 conviction for supporting the Basque separatist group ETA's activities, later claiming asylum on the basis that she had been suffocated with a plastic bag, raped, beaten and subjected to electroshock treatment while in a Spanish prison after a 1999 arrest.
At the time of her arrest, Txapartegi was an elected city councilor in Asteasu in the Basque region of northern Spain and was later elected mayor while still in prison awaiting trial.
After several years underground in Switzerland, Txapartegi was arrested in in Zurich, Switzerland in April 2016 on an international warrant and has been in detention awaiting the judgment in her asylum request case.
The World Organization Against Torture had intervened in Txapartegi’s case noting that her confession of supporting illegal ETA activities had been extracted via torture, allegations supported by a prison doctor who examined Txapartegi after her detention and found injuries consistent with torture.
In 2010 a Spanish court found four police officers guilty of torturing suspected ETA militants, sentencing them to prison and ordering them to pay compensation to their victims.
The ETA was founded in 1959 in response to Spanish dictator Francisco Franco’s brutal repression of Basque culture and independent politics.
For over 40 years the ETA carried out clandestine attacks on police and military officials as well as Francoist politicians, sometimes killing civilians in the process.
The ETA was eventually labeled a terrorist organization by both the Spanish and U.S. governments for its fight to achieve Basque independence.
In 2011, the ETA declared a permanent ceasefire.