Egunkaria Case






20th February. The Spanish National Criminal Court Judge Juan del Olmo ordered the Guardia Civil (military Spanish police force) to close down the Basque-language daily Euskaldunon Egunkaria and to arrest ten people: Joan Mari Torrealdai, Iñaki Uria, Txema Auzmendi, Martxelo Otamendi, Pello Zubiria, Xabier Oleaga, Xabier Alegria, Fermin Lazkano, Luis Goia (he died in 2006) and Inma Gomila (he died in 2011).


21th February. The workers of Egunkaria printed the first issue of the daily Egunero. It sold 70,000 copies the first day and this project lasted until Berria was launched.


25th February. After the ten had been held incommunicado in the hands of the Guardia Civil for five days, the judge ordered that Torrealdai, Uria, Oleaga, Auzmendi and Alegria be remanded in custody. He also ordered Pello Zubiria to be held for an additional 72 hours incommunicado. And ordered Martxelo Otamendi, Inma Gomila, Fermin Lazkano and Luis Goia to be released on bail.


21th June. Berria, the new Basque-language daily, was launched. At that time, it had almost 16,000 shareholders.  


16th October. The Guardia Civil launched an operation on the Martin Ugalde Culture Park and the Egunkaria group of companies. It was ordered by Judge Juan del Olmo and 8 people were arrested: Mikel Arrizabalaga, Angel Diez, Amando Hernandez, Mikel Sorozabal, Joxe Mari Sors, Mikel Azkune, Joanmari Larrarte and Xabier Legarra.


20th October. Juan del Olmo ordered Eneko Etxeberria, the lawyer representing Egunkaria, to be arrested at the Spanish National Criminal Court itself and held incommunicado.


21st October. The nine detainees were released. Arrizabalaga, Diez, Etxeberria and Hernandez without bail; Sorozabal, Sors, Azkune, Larrarte and Legarra had to post bail amounts of 12,000 euros each. Everyone had been held incommunicado.




2nd August. Iñaki Uria was the last of the Egunkaria Case detainees to be released. He was freed that day, after posting bail of 450,000 euros.


15th October. The Spanish National Criminal Court unfroze the bank accounts belonging to Martin Ugalde, one of the founders of Egunkaria, 11 days after his death.


4th November. Judge Juan del Olmo published the indictment. The examining judge charged Torrealdai, Uria, Auzmendi, Otamendi, Zubiria, Oleaga snd Alegria, as well as Joxemi Zumalabe, another founder of Egunkaria, despite being deceased.


25th December. The Judge confirmed all the charges except the one against Joxemi Zumalabe. The defence lawyers filed an appeal with the Criminal Division.




22nd February. 22 members of the European Parliament requested that the file on the Egunkaria Case be closed: the Parliament’s Deputy President Gerard Onesta, members of four political groups (Independence and Democracy Group, Greens, European Free Alliance and European Liberals and Democrats) and another person not aligned with any group.


19th October. 61 Members of the Lower and Upper chambers of the Spanish Parliament adopted a resolution in favour of the Egunkaria Case being closed. They were representatives of the following parties: Basque National Party, Eusko Alkartasuna, Nafarroa Bai, Coalición Canaria, Izquierda Unida-Izquierda Verde- Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, Convergencia i Unió, Bloque Nacionalista Galego and the Chunta Aragonesista.


18th November. The majority in the Basque Parliament, representing the Basque National Party, Eusko Alkartasuna, Ezker Batua, Ezker Abertzalea and Aralar, called for the Egunkaria Case to be dropped.




26th January. The second chamber of the Criminal Division of the Spanish National Criminal Court examined the appeals filed by the defence.


15th December. Miguel Ángel Carballo, the Prosecutor of the Spanish National Criminal Court, admitted that there was no reason to close down Egunkaria and that there was no evidence of any offence; accordingly, he called for the case to be dropped.




29th March. Judge Juan del Olmo charged three former members of Egunkaria and summonsed them to testify. That way, he revived the financial court case.


10th May. The Spanish National Criminal Court decided that the main court case against Egunkaria should go ahead.


14th June. The Prosecutor did not present any charges for the written allegation.


28th November. Judge Del Olmo decided to press ahead with the financial court case, using the simplified proceedings.




24th January. The Criminal Division ruled that the financial court case should be handled by the Spanish National Criminal Court.


20th February. It was 5 years since Egunkaria had been closed down. Many people, including social, cultural and political players, gathered that day at the Martin Ugalde Culture Park (Andoain, Gipuzkoa). The Basque Government again called for the case to be dropped.




15th April. The Spanish National Criminal Court asked for certain proceedings in the financial court case of Egunkaria to be repeated.


13th May. After taking statements for the first time from three of the accused (Joan Mari Torrealdai, Iñaki Uria and Txema Auzmendi), Judge Eloy Velasco decided that the trial should take place.


23rd June. The last judicial session of the main court case was held at the Spanish National Criminal Court before the panel of judges of the second chamber of the Criminal Division. It was formed by the Judges Javier Gómez Bermúdez, Ramón Sáez Valcárcel and Manuela Fernández. Prosecutor Carballo called for the case to be dropped once and for all. Defence lawyers of Egunkaria Iñigo Iruin and Jose Mari Elosua did likewise. But the Association of Victims Against Terrorism (AVT) and Dignity and Justice acting as the popular prosecution called for the trial to be held.


30th July. The panel of judges of the Second Chamber of the Criminal Division of the Spanish National Criminal Court ruled in favour of the trial against Egunkaria going ahead, so the trial will be held. Pello Zubiria and Xabier Alegria were excluded: Zubiria, because the panel of judges considered that the time during which prosecution could be brought had expired, and Alegria, because he had already been charged with being a member of ETA (18/98 Case). That means five former executives will be standing trial: Joan Mari Torrealdai, Iñaki Uria, Txema Auzmendi, Martxelo Otamendi and Xabier Oleaga.


31st July. “We have to tell the Basque public, which has never abandoned us, that we continue to need its help, its breath and its support, especially between now and the trial”, said the five accused during a meeting held in Andoain. “We are guilty of promoting the Basque language, guilty of passionately promoting the Basque culture, guilty of working ardently in the construction of the Basque media… yes. But to promote the Basque language, to promote the Basque culture and to work in the Basque media does not make us members of ETA, as the Police and the popular prosecution maintain”.


15 December. The trial in the case involving the closing down of Egunkaria started at the Spanish National Criminal Court. The five defendants – Joan Mari Torrealdai, Iñaki Uria, Txema Auzmendi, Martxelo Otamendi and Xabier Oleaga- testified. The Prosecutor, Miguel Ángel Carballo, refused to ask them any questions –he had called for the case to be dropped- and the defendants asserted that they had no links with the armed organisation ETA. They received a lot of support in Madrid as well, as they were accompanied by many Basque representatives. In Barcelona, about 150 people showed their support for Egunkaria and the five defendants.

16 December. Second day of trial. Three members of the Spanish Police (Guardia Civil) testified. The Spanish Police had proceeded to close down Egunkaria on the orders of Judge Juan del Olmo. During the second day of the trial, the prosecutor refused to ask the members of the Police any questions, either, and they didn’t present any evidence.


19 December. Masses of people attended a rally in Bilbao against the trial of Egunkaria and in favour of the defendants, and others gathered in Madrid and Zaragoza. They received the strong support of numerous representatives of the public.




12 January. The Basque prisoners Jose Luis Alvarez Santacristina (Txelis), Jose Mari Dorronsoro and Carmen Gisasola stressed that ETA had not taken part in the launching of Egunkaria. On the other hand, members of the Spanish Guardia Civil said that the arrest operation of the defendants had been “normal” –the officers were indirectly denying torture complaints made by the defence. Both the prisoners and the police officers gave evidence as witnesses of the defence.


25 January.  Three witnesses of the defence team defended the independence and plural nature of Egunkaria: two of them had in fact been promoters of the newspaper, and they were the university professor Iñaki Zabaleta and the journalist Imanol Murua Uria, while the third was Jose Luis Zinkunegi, who is a leading member of the Society of Jesus. The editor of the Spanish newspaper Abc, Fernando Berridi, said that at the time when he was the managing director of the Basque newspaper El Diario Vasco, this newspaper and Egunkaria has a “normal” relationship –Egunkaria had on occasions rented the rotary press of El Diario Vasco to print its products, as it did not have its own–. A former member of ETA and former prisoner Txomin Aizpurua said that he did not know of any ETA document about Egunkaria dating back to the time that the newspaper was launched. He was called to give evidence by the Private Prosecution.


27 January. According to the statements of the experts called by the defence, there were many errors in the translations of the documents seized from the defendants. On the other hand, experts called by the Guardia Civil admitted, among other things, that they did not have any proof to say that Martxelo Otamendi, former editor-in-chief of Egunkaria, had been appointed by ETA. That concluded the giving of evidence by the witnesses and experts.


1 February. The trial in the Egunkaria case came to an end. The Public Prosecutor and the Defence Team called for the acquittal of the defendants, arguing that there was no proof against them. On the contrary, the organisations Dignity and Justice and the Association of Victims of Terrorism representing the Private Prosecution confirmed that they were seeking prison terms of between 12 and 14 years for the defendants. Joan Mari Torrealdai pronounced the last words, on behalf of the five defendants: “It has been made clear that we´re men of letters, not men of weapons”.


12 April. The Spanish National Criminal Court acquitted the five defendants in the closing down case of  the daily newspaper Egunkaria –Joan Mari Torrealdai, Iñaki Uria, Txema Auzmendi, Martxelo Otamendi and Xabier Oleaga–, and the daily itself, arguing that there is no proof against them. According to the verdict, the defendants did not commit any crime and they had not had any links with the armed organisation ETA; the decision to close the newspaper down was illegal, because it was an infringement of the right to freedom of speech; Egunkaria did not exalt “terrorism”; there was no proof for the accusations, they were weak and baseless; and during the detention period of the defendants there was insufficient and ineffective control of the incommunicado conditions. The Private Prosecution, represented by Dignity and Justice and the Association of Victims of Terrorism, can file an appeal against the verdict with the Spanish Supreme Court.


13 April. The defendants said that the verdict was “very important”, but they pointed out that justice had yet to be done. The defence lawyers have not yet decided whether compensation will be sought. With respect to the financial case, they have decided to request that it be transferred to the Court of Gipuzkoa.


29 April. The two organisations representing the Private Prosecution, AVT and Dignity and Justice, announced that they would not be appealing against the verdict. Thus, the verdict in the closing down case of Egunkaria became definitive and final.


5 May. The Criminal Division of the Spanish National Criminal Court decided to transfer the financial court case of Egunkaria to the Court of San Sebastian, because the eight defendants only had “ordinary charges” to answer. The Private Prosecution declared it was seeking prison sentences of between 13 and 26 years for each defendant, as well as fines amounting to 235 million euros.




14 october. The Provincial Court of Gipuzkoa (Basque Country) has closed the financial court case of Egunkaria, due to the fact that the alleged crimes (public subsidy fraud and falsification of accounts) are now time-barred. Therefore, after 11 years the Egunkaria case is over, and there is no conviction in none of both court cases: the closure of the newspaper (aquittal in 2010) and the financial court case.