Basque nationalist snatched from behind “human wall” in Pamplona

Batasuna youth wing member due to start serving six-year sentence for membership of an illegal organization

Javier Doria|Agencies
Pamplona / Madrid - 15 Oct 2013 - 12:23 UTC
The moment of Luis Goñi's arrest early on Monday morning.
The moment of Luis Goñi's arrest early on Monday morning.jesús diges / EFE

National Police in Pamplona succeeded in arresting a young Basque nationalist sentenced to six years in prison from behind a human wall of around 200 people in the early hours of Monday morning.

Luis Goñi — who had received the sentence for being a member of Segi, the youth branch of terrorist group ETA's outlawed political wing Batasuna — had been holed up in the Navarrese capital's Plaza de la Navarrería, protected by a group of youngsters from the Herri Harresia (People's wall, in Basque) initiative who had been trying to prevent his arrest.

Sources from the Interior Ministry and the government delegate in Navarre reported that officers apprehended Goñi at around 1.30am in a swift operation that resulted in no major incidents or further arrests.

Goñi's whereabouts had been unknown since the Supreme Court at the end of July confirmed the six-year sentence for membership of an illegal organization handed down to him by the High Court. At the same time it ratified the sentence given to Xabier Sagardoi, whose whereabouts had also been unknown until his arrest in Sorlada, Navarre, on September 29.

Goñi announced via a video last week that he had decided to reappear in public to take part in an abertzale Basque nationalist left march in support of "non-violent civil disobedience" in Pamplona on Sunday.

The government delegate in Navarre, Carmen Alba, had warned that Goñi would be arrested "before, after or during the demonstration."

40 other alleged Segi members are currently on trial in Madrid

With a heavy police presence deployed throughout the city from Sunday morning onwards, Goñi appeared at around 2.30pm, just after the march had finished, surrounded by several dozen people in the Plaza de la Navarrería. Throughout the afternoon, shouts of support for Goñi were heard, mixed with a festive atmosphere, with those seated in the square heading into the area's many busy bars to buy drinks.

The arrest came just before the trial of 40 other alleged Segi members got underway in the National High Court in San Fernando de Henares, Madrid, on Monday. The proceedings began with a symbolic protest from the accused, all dressed in orange t-shirts bearing the slogan "Free, Askatu, Libre," who stood up and began to release orange balloons. The public prosecutor is requesting sentences of seven to nine years for the accused for belonging to a terrorist organization.