The Basque political prisoner Arkaitz Bellon was found dead in his jail cell on February 5, more than 1000 kilometres from his home.
The body of the prisoner from Elorrio, who was 36, was found in his bed. Jail authorities say “his death points to natural causes”, but they will carry out a more detailed investigation. Bellon's lawyers and family have petitioned for a doctor they trust to be present at the autopsy.
Bellon spent 13 years in prison for acts of sabotage and had the date for his release was set for next May.
During his time in jail, he knew firsthand the cruel policies with which the Spanish state treats Basque political prisoners; he was in the prisons farthest from his home and suffered several violent assaults.
This death, which official agencies consider “natural”, is a consequence of the cruel policy of dispersion that the Spanish and French governments apply to Basque political prisoners. This policy places Basque prisoners in jails far from their homes, and family and friends, in the Basque Country.
Bellon was more than 1000 kilo]metres from the Basque Country, far from his loved ones, alone in a cell ― a host of circumstances that make possible such tragic consequences.
The policy of dispersion of Basque prisoners must end now. The political prisoners must be transferred without delay to prisons close to their places of origin.
This death is a hard blow to Basque society, which desires peace and the return home, safe and alive, of all the prisoners and exiles as a consequence of the political conflict.
Not one more Basque citizen must die in jail.
[Abridged from Basque Peace Process.]