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Amnesty Int. condemns torture in Spain

Amnesty International has released a report condemning the torture of Basque detainees and immigrants in Spain.
Spain accused of ignoring torture victims

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By Daniel Flynn
MADRID (Reuters) - Spain frequently allows torture of illegal
immigrants and suspected ETA members by police to go unpunished and
does not grant appropriate compensation to victims, Amnesty
International says in a report.

In a study of 450 court cases between 1980 and 2004, the human rights
watchdog criticised the chronic slowness of Spain's courts and the
frequent impunity given to torturers.

"Internationally, everyone agrees there is a problem of torture and
mistreatment in Spain -- except successive Spanish governments," said
Esteban Beltran, Amnesty's director in Spain, presenting the
report "Spain: Ending the Double Injustice" on Friday.

"Amnesty is calling for an abrupt reversal of the practice of doling
out pardons," said Beltran, adding that dozens of officials had
received reprieves from torture convictions.

An Interior Ministry spokeswoman had no comment. The previous
conservative government, ousted by the Socialists in March, had
always denied such allegations.

While saying there was no systematic police torture in Spain, Amnesty
identified a growing problem of racist treatment of illegal

It also said that the practice of holding incommunicado suspected
members of Basque separatist group ETA and suspected al Qaeda
militants encouraged torture. EU-applicant Turkey had tighter rules
on holding prisoners incommunicado, Beltran said.

Despite the psychological damage inflicted by torture, Amnesty said
Spain's courts continued to compensate victims under guidelines for
traffic accidents.

In a third of cases, victims received less than 600 euros --
insufficient to cover the cost of medical treatment and therapy.

In the majority of the cases analysed by Amnesty, victims had to wait
more than seven years before receiving compensation and in some
instances it took longer than 15 years.

"In relation to compensating the victims of torture, Spain ranks very
poorly ... compared with other European countries," Beltran said,
citing the example of France which guarantees compensation even if
the guilty party cannot pay.

The rights group said victims were often not adequately compensated
because their torturers could not be identified.

The report cited the case of a Brazilian immigrant raped in police
custody in the Basque city of Bilbao. Although a court found in her
favour, her rapists were never identified because none of the
officers would cooperate.

Torture of political dissidents was widespread under the 1939-1975
dictatorship of Francisco Franco and concerns over Spain's human
rights record played a part in delaying its entry into the European
Union until 1986.

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