MONTREAL -- Canadian immigration officials are being accused of resorting to evidence gathered under torture to try to deport a suspected Basque terrorist.
Ivan Apaolaza Sancho claims that Ottawa's case against him relies partly on information gleaned from an interrogation where Spanish police were accused of roughing up a suspect.
"She made some declarations to the police and after this woman said she was tortured,'' Sancho told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview from a Montreal detention centre. "But the Canadian government didn't show it like that.''
Sancho was arrested by the RCMP last summer on an immigration warrant. The Canadian government is seeking to deport him to Spain, where he is thought to be linked to the violent Basque separatist group ETA.
Government immigration lawyers are basing their case on a Spanish arrest warrant that ties Sancho to a series of car bombings in Spain between 1999 and 2000.
According to Sancho's legal team, that warrant contains statements made by Ana Belen Egues Gurruchaga, who was arrested by Spanish police in November 2001 following a Madrid car bombing.
She was detained under Spanish anti-terror laws that allow suspects to be held incommunicado for up to five days.
Sancho's lawyer, William Sloan, said Gurruchaga filed a criminal complaint with a Spanish court not long after she was released alleging she was tortured.
"The facts point to these declarations having been obtained by torture,'' he said. "They match word for word the warrants that Canada is using as evidence.''
Calls to Canadian immigration officials were not returned.
Reports by both Amnesty International and the United Nations have highlighted the use of torture in Spanish police cells in the past.
Sloan plans to call a French jurist to testify during Sancho's upcoming deportation hearing that Spanish justice officials often resort to aggressive interview tactics.
"Our defence is basically to incriminate Spain,'' Sloan said.
He charged there is scant evidence to support Ottawa's deportation order.
Besides Gurruchaga's controversial statement, the government's case rests largely on a fingerprint of Sancho's that was allegedly found alongside explosives in a Spanish apartment.
The government has also produced Spanish intelligence reports that link Sancho to ETA from as early as 1991.
Sancho claims the process against him has been unfair.
"It's not really been the best experience of my life,'' he said in accented English. "I don't think it's been a very good treatment.''
Sancho has acknowledged using at least two different names since he arrived in Canada.
He also told an earlier deportation hearing that he initially roomed with Victor Tejedor Bilbao, who is also accused of ties with ETA.
"I was scarred they were going to send me back to Spain and arrest me there and torture me,'' he said Monday, explaining his decision to resort to an alias.
After several years of relative calm, ETA declared a formal end to its cease-fire in June 2007, around the time Sancho was arrested.
Since then, ETA has carried out more than a dozen bombings and assassinated two undercover Spanish police officers.
The group claimed responsibility for a blast last Friday outside of a police station in Spain's northern Rioja region which left one person slightly injured.
Sancho deportation hearing resumes on Wednesday.
Then again, we're never told exactly what happen, except what a suspected terrorist tells us against a mountain of credible evidence which clearly didn't require torture to get (Fingerprints, recorded documents of his involvement in the group)
I mean seriously, the report starts with claims of a suspect being roughed up. That alone hasn't even been proven to be true, so how can one jump on the premis that the information gained during this incident isn't valid, considdering there is no actual investigation towards this so-called torture, let alone details of the torture itself.
Sounds like a ploy to use a sympathy card in order to avoid being sent back to Spain. Kinda like Brian's buddy who's been doing very well with avoiding going to Germany.