Basque police officers sentenced to 18 months in jail in ETA Faisán tip-off case

High Court rejects prosecutor’s call for pair to be charged with collaborating with terrorist group

An archive photo from the beginning of the Faisán trial of Enrique Pamiés (l) and José María Ballesteros (r). / Emilio Naranjo (EFE)

The High Court on Wednesday sentenced two high-ranking Basque police officers to 18 months in jail and barred them from the service for four years after finding them guilty of tipping off a gang of ETA extortionists about an imminent raid in 2006.

However, the court rejected a request that came from the Attorney General Eduardo Torres-Dulce for the former police chief of the Basque Country Enrique Pamiés, and inspector José María Ballesteros, to also be condemned for collaborating with ETA.

The court ruled that Pamiés and Ballesteros did not act to favor an operation by ETA but rather were motivated to try not to ruin imminent talks between the government and ETA, which had declared a ceasefire two months earlier.

Pamiés’ attorney María Ponte said she would appeal the ruling with the Supreme Court. The SUP police officers union, which had paid for the defense of Ballesteros, said the case was politically motivated and instigated by the ruling conservative Popular Party. In 2011, when the Socialist government of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was in power, a High Court panel dismissed indictments against Pamiés and Ballesteros.

In its investigation into the so-called Faisán case, the High Court ruled that it had been proven that Pamiés told the owner of the Faisán bar in Irún, ETA sympathizer Joseba Elosua, the details of a police operation to dismantle an ETA extortion ring that operated out of the bar. The conversation between Pamiés and Elosua was via a cellphone that Ballesteros handed to the bar owner. The planned raid was aborted.

The ETA ring was dismantled months after the tip off.

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