ETA tried to kill Iñaki Dubreuil on 22 February, 2001, by remotely triggering a car bomb as he passed on his way to work. As a consequence of the explosion, ETA took the lives of Josu Leonet and Jose Angel Santos who, along with many others who were injured, were near Iñaki Dubreuil as they headed to work. Iñaki Dubreuil suffered first, second and third degree burns and shrapnel wounds that have cured over time. He has also suffered psychological symptoms for which he is still under treatment.


Name: Iñaki Dubreuil Churruca

Age: 54 (1958)

Profession / Position: Social worker / Councillor for PSE-EE in the City Council of Ordizia (Gipuzkoa).

Family status: Married. Two children.

Place of origin: Ordizia (Gipuzkoa).

GROUP: Politicians.


- He joined the PSE-EE in 1992 and became a councillor in the city of Ordizia (Gipuzkoa) in 2000 to replace José Manuel Ros, a council member who left office after suffering two attacks against his law firm.

- Shortly after being assigned protection (December 2000), ETA tried to kill Iñaki Dubreuil on 22 February, 2001, by remotely triggering a car bomb as he passed on his way to work. As a consequence of the explosion, ETA took the lives of Josu Leonet and Jose Angel Santos who, along with many others who were injured, were near Iñaki Dubreuil as they headed to work.

- Iñaki Dubreuil suffered first, second and third degree burns and shrapnel wounds that have cured over time. He has also suffered psychological symptoms for which he is still under treatment.


“After having spent a year in close association with the Socialist Party, I joined it in 1992. I had previously supported the nationalist left, when I was younger. Since I joined, I worked with the Socialist Party until the year 2000, when I replaced the socialist councillor, José Manuel Ros, in the City Council of Ordizia after his law firm had been attacked twice and he decided to embark on a new life. That same year, in December, I was assigned a bodyguard. Just two months later, on February 22, 2001, I suffered an attack with a car bomb loaded with between 6 and 15 kilograms of explosives”.

“The moment you join a political party, such as the Socialist Party or the Popular Party, which are considered by the nationalist left as enemies of Euskal Herria (the Basque Country), you realize you’re on the other side and you start to have concerns. When ETA began to extend its range of possible targets, you started to realise that things were getting serious. I was aware before that because they had killed all kinds of people, but it wasn’t usual for them to kill council members belonging to political parties. Following the murders of Miguel Angel Blanco and Gregorio Ordóñez, you seriously started to worry about your life and your family”.

“Shortly after entering the City Council to replace Jose Manuel Ros, there was an election. I was the head of the list for the PSE-EE and at that moment I knew I was exposing myself to threats from ETA more than before, even though Ordizia is a small town. The same year I joined the party, we held a press conference to announce the new local executive. Following that event, people knew that I belonged to the PSE-EE and that’s when the problems started. Coming from the nationalist left background, like it or not, I had several friends in that environment. They start to call you a traitor, they call you everything you can imagine, they tell you that you have gone over to the Socialist Party for money, they stop greeting you and speaking to you … They start rubbing it in that way. My social relationships were affected”.

“That hurt because I had lots of friends in that environment. But, on the other hand, as I also had friends in other environments, so to speak, I felt I had their support. I haven’t had any trouble with my family and most of my friends. That makes things easier. I felt I was supported, but it was a difficult time”.

“Today (21 February 2012), I still have a bodyguard. I suppose I will lose him soon. Having a bodyguard makes you lose spontaneity; leaving home and deciding where you want to go … You lose that because you have to call and tell them in advance. Going out with a group of friends is also different with bodyguards. You have to think about anything you want to do or anywhere you want to go to let your protection service know in advance. You even lose some privacy. But it is also reassuring”.

“I knew I could be the target of an attack. It was a time when, in order to leave the house, I had to do so either before or after my wife so that we wouldn’t go out together, I returned home after my children… I tried not to be with the family at such moments”.

“The day of the attack, February 22, 2001, I was on my way to work in an industrial estate on the outskirts of San Sebastian. As always, I travelled by train. Many people got off the train with me at the station to go to the local businesses. Then, at one point along the route, a car bomb exploded”.

“I remember the image of the attack. I was on the ground, I opened my eyes and saw the blue sky and I thought,I’m alive. My first th ought was that they had got me and then that I was alive.  I got up, looked around and I saw some legs. There was a truck that prevented me from seeing more. I saw a wrecked car as well. When I started to approach the legs, there was a small explosion caused by something that was still in the car. I withdrew a little and started to remove pieces of shrapnel. The first thing I did was call my wife and a colleague. I told my wife that there had been a bomb attack but not to worry because I was all right. Then came the turn of ambulances and hospitals”.

“That’s when I started to worry about the other people. As always, I was surrounded by many people walking ahead or behind me. I was concerned that the bomb had hit other people. Nobody told me anything until quite a few hours later”.

“Two people on their way to work were killed. They were called Josu Leonet and Miguel Angel Santos. Two others, who were also on their way to work, were very seriously injured: Igor Larrea and Jose Ignacio Urrestarazu. The next most seriously injured person was me and then my bodyguard and another two or three people who also had minor injuries. If we had been walking a little closer together or if they had pressed the button that triggered the bomb an instant later, more people may have been killed”.

“Following the attack, I had first, second and third degree burns on my head and hands. In order to cure you, they put you in a bath and start removing the skin. They have to clean everything very carefully because a kind of fat also comes out and they have to scrape it off. It is very painful. I was in hospital for 15 days and then I had a nurse coming home to cure me and then my wife carried on with the treatment. I couldn’t do anything alone: eat or have a bath… My hands and legs were bandaged and my head was a mess. I had lots of pieces of shrapnel in my body that caused me about 30 wounds that have healed. Later, they also removed a piece of metal from my knee that prevented me from walking correctly. Between the time spent in hospital and the home cures, it was almost one month and a half before I went out again”.

“At the time when I suffered the attack, they had never killed any Socialist councillor. The first was Froilan Elespe, the next one they attacked after me. It was tough because he had visited me in hospital. I remember telling him he had to get a bodyguard after what had happened. When, after the attack, I was finally able to go out, I invited my wife to dinner at a restaurant. After the meal, my guards told me they had just killed Froilan in Lasarte-Oria and I went there. It was pretty tough”.

“Council members from Batasuna came to visit me in hospital. They said they had no words. However, at a plenary session, some parties submitted a motion against the attack, with a number of points. Then you see the speech by the Batasuna councillor and he only mentions those who died, not the other people who were wounded or me. The same day of the attack, they said they regretted the deaths of Josu Leonet and Miguel Angel Santos. It was as if I didn’t exist. And, then, the following day they came to visit me. They saw the hospital visit as something personal and they got that out of the way. They were personally affected by what had happened, but not politically. These are things that hurt”.

“The worst consequences of the attack were of a psychological nature. The psychologist at the hospital started treating me. I went to his surgery for almost a year. Then there was a change in the Psychiatry Department and I started to see another doctor until just over one year ago. I no longer go to the surgery but I continue with the medication. I need the medication to treat sleep disorders. Even now, I am unable to sleep much. I go to bed and four or five hours later my eyes are wide open and I have to do something to pass the time. You start thinking, you get up and switch on the computer, go to the kitchen … I still haven’t got over it completely. The anxiety; that’s under controlled, but I occasionally need to take some medication”.

“I had never been physically attacked. There have been the typical pamphlets where you appear as the bull’s eye of a target, posters accusing you of being responsible for the dispersion of ETA prisoners and of being a jailer, some anonymous messages that my fellow socialist in the city hall, Aitor Perlines, and I received, the odd decapitated rat on the stairs leading to my house… For some years, that sort of thing was common. After the attack, there was no more of that”.

“That’s how they do things. First, they rail against someone. They describe you as a jailer, as the person responsible for dispersing the prisoners, an enemy of the Basque Country and of the Basque language… and that creates a sort of justification that can lead to anything. It’s one of the things that the ‘nationalist’ left have always been criticized for; because ETA threatens you and they tell you they are going after you. But those who put up the banners, posters, graffiti and other such things do not belong to ETA. They are people from the ‘nationalist’ left that create the background to support or justify anything that may happen to you”.

“I felt the support of some people even before the attack. About thirty of the present and former council members of the City of Ordizia from the PNV, EA, PP, all the parties here, had organized a dinner to acknowledge the situation I was going through. I had never had any problem with my family, friends and townspeople. There are always people who, for whatever reason, told me they preferred to keep away from me because perhaps they had a shop and if they were seen with me, perhaps people would stop going. But I have been supported. Anyway, I see things clearly and I do not need much support to know that I am doing what I am doing with the best will and that I have every right to participate in politics. I don’t need lots of people telling me how well I do things, because, in that sense, I know that I am trying to do my best”.

“Sometimes I’ve wanted to leave Ordizia and, indeed, I received some proposals after the attack, but, in the end I have always rejected that possibility. I was born here, my family and friends are here, I have always worked here… my life is here. It is true that you can go elsewhere and start over, but that means moving the family somewhere else and forcing them too, in a way, to have to start from scratch. In addition, I haven’t done anything to have to leave. In any case, those who should leave are those who kill and make other people’s lives miserable here. The logical and reasonable approach is to run away when they put the thumb-screws on and when you are at risk. I don’t think you should do that. If you only think about yourself, maybe you would. One option is to flee and the other is to stay and fight these people to improve this situation so that no-one should have to leave because they have different political views. But you think about it a lot”.

“There is a lot of social pressure in small towns. Especially in small towns where most people are nationalists. And, if that nationalist majority is from the nationalist left, it is even worse. The pressure can affect you. But you have your support and your resources, your friends, your family … If you don’t have that support, then it is understandable that you give in to the pressure. But when you feel supported and you know you’re not doing anything wrong, when you ask yourself if you are contributing anything by leaving, the answer is no. If I left, I would be proving them right and fulfilling their goal, which is to get rid of you one way or another. They either force you out or silence you politically. Well, neither one thing nor the other”.

“I’ve been involved in two trials and I think a person was found guilty in the second one only, although he had not been directly involved in the attack, rather someone who had ordered it or had performed some type of prior surveillance work… Justice has not been done, at least in the legal field because the perpetrators of the attack have not been found“.

“I have always been one of those who see the glass half full and I am rather positive. My state of mind is now better than what it was three years ago, much better than 10 years ago and still far better than 20 years ago. The political situation has changed and is clearly undergoing further changes. In that sense I feel more cheerful than before. I have had many ups and downs in my life. I had high hopes during the previous truce. I felt great, but when they broke the truce, you feel bad because you think you are going back again to the previous situation. You wanted more and you go back to living your life with an even higher percentage of danger”.

“You live with the fear that something like the attack may happen again, although right now I think the possibility of that is quite low. What I do not rule out is that some undisciplined element or desperado may do something outrageous. I don’t know much about peace processes, but there are always elements in organisations like ETA that are reluctant to give up and that try to continue with the violence. That is still a small concern I have”.