ETA member sentenced for 1995 killing of Basque policemen
Mikel Otegi was cleared by a popular court in Gipuzcoa for slayings
Fifteen years after the event, the High Court on Wednesday ended the controversy raised in 1997 when a popular jury in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa acquitted ETA member Mikel Otegi of the murder of two police officers, alleging that he was drunk and not in control of his own actions.
Now, the Madrid court has sentenced Otegi to 34 years in prison after finding him guilty of a terrorist attack and two counts of murder.
On December 10, 1995, after attending a concert and consuming several alcoholic drinks, Otegi was caught speeding as he drove home; two regional police officers followed him to his country house. Otegi came out with a hunting gun and shot them at close range, then coolly walked to the patrol car and joked on the radio that "a casero \[Basque farmer\] has killed two cipayos \[paid thugs\] for the policies you follow." When he was arrested, he said: "Two sons-of-bitches fewer."
A popular jury in Gipuzkoa — a traditional ETA stronghold — acquitted him on the grounds that he did not know what he was doing due to the effects of alcohol.
The acquittal was appealed by the attorney, but when authorities tried to arrest him again, Otegi had already fled to France, where he was caught in 2003 and convicted of terrorist association. After serving his time he was delivered to Spain for a retrial of the murder case.