Gents-Basque cook was fled to Spain today

On Sunday, the Basque woman who has been living in Ghent for years, will be put on a flight to Spain. She is charged with the murder of a Spanish soldier in 1981. On Monday morning she appears before the Spanish investigating judge.

Maria Natividad Jáuregui Espina, who is known in Ghent by her Basque name Jaione, has been in custody in Ghent since Wednesday. Federal police officers raided her apartment around five o’clock and took her. The promise to put on her an electronic anklet while awaiting her surrender to Spain could not be fulfilled as such a procedure is quite time consuming and it was clear that Jáuregui Espina would be put on a flight to Spain quite soon. She is expected in Madrid around 7 pm on Sunday evening. On Tuesday evening, the Supreme Court had ruled that Belgium will follow up on the European arrest warrant against Jáuregui Espina and hand it over to the Spanish authorities.

On Saturday, friends of Jáuregui Espina stood with banners at the prison to support her.


Jáuregui Espina is accused of murdering a Spanish lieutenant colonel in 1981. As a supporter of the Basque violent secessionist movement, she is said to have shot the soldier in the head. She denies that charge.

Her lawyer, Master Paul Bekaert, has tried up to the last moment to stop the tradition. One of his arguments is that Jáuregui Espina is being handed over for a ‘terrorist murder’, a fact that is barred after 15 years according to Belgian law. He has also tried to convince the Belgian judge that the rights of Jáuregui Espina will be violated in a Spanish prison, as she will be prosecuted as a ‘terrorist’ and that means – according to the letter of Spanish law – that she will be will be ‘incommunicado’ for ten days, and must not see any counsel of her choice. The Spanish judicial authorities have guaranteed to the Belgian courts that this strict law will not apply to Jáuregui Espina, as the facts are so old. Subsequently, the Belgian court decided to agree to her surrender to Spain.

From her detention in Ghent, Jáuregui Espina announces that she is not comfortable about it. She fears she will not receive a fair trial.

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