Luis Domínguez, originally from a town in Salamanca, had been living in Bergara for 25 years; a town in which he had made his home with his wife, Arrate Zurutuza, and five children, of which the eldest is Luis Ignacio Domíngez. On 25th January 1980, aged 39, ETA shot Luis five times in the cemetery of Bergara, killing him. After the attack, his wife and son have continued hearing rumours about him and about themselves until, eventually, the situation calmed down and returned to normal.


Name: Arrate Zurutuza Lazcano / Luis Ignacio Domínguez Zurutuza

Age: 68 (1944) / 51 (1961)

Profession: Retired / Grave-digger

Family status: Widow. Five children / siblings, one died in a traffic accident.

Place of origin: Bergara (Gipuzkoa)

GROUP: Relatives of victims.


- Luis Domínguez, originally from a town in Salamanca, had been living in Bergara for 25 years; a town in which he had made his home with his wife, Arrate Zurutuza, and five children, of which the eldest is Luis Ignacio Domíngez. He was the grave-digger at the town’s cemetery, located next to the Civil Guard barracks.

- Luis spoke and related to many people in the town, including civil guards. For this reason, he received threats over the telephone and rumours about him were circulated around town. Luis lived in fear during the final stage of his life.

- On 25th January 1980, aged 39, ETA shot Luis five times in the cemetery of Bergara, killing him. After the attack, his wife and son have continued hearing rumours about him and about themselves until, eventually, the situation calmed down and returned to normal.


Arrate Zurutuza (A. Z.): “We were a family consisting of a couple with five children. Luis was the grave-digger at the Bergara cemetery. He also worked as an undertaker and he had a warehouse next to the Civil Guard barracks where he stored the coffins. He used to go there and, as the barracks were next door, he would talk to the Civil Guards. That’s why they took notice of him. Sometimes, when someone was killed, Luis also processed the insurance papers and, sometimes, when he was taking the papers, he realised he was being followed; for example, when he had to go to San Sebastian on one occasion because they had killed several civil guards”.

“Luis came from Salamanca and had come to Bergara when he was young. We got married when he was 20 and I was 17. He had lived in Bergara longer than in Salamanca and was well-known”.

Luis Ignacio Domínguez (L. D.): “My father worked at the funeral home and in the cemetery, my mother was a cleaner in a factory and I worked in a metal processing factory. I am the eldest of five siblings. When they killed my father I was 19. I was working, as well as another of my brothers who was 18 at the time. The rest were younger, 9, 14 and another sister aged 16, who died four years after our father was killed”.

“Like me, my father spoke with everyone, wherever they were from. He felt sorry for the people in the barracks for all the hatred and pressure there was against the civil guards. In the end, there were all types of people, like everywhere. There were also bad people, I suppose. But there were also normal people and when they went to the bar, they chatted together. In those days, that was unheard of and people would not take it lightly. They didn’t even accuse him of being an informer. All they said about him was that they didn’t want people like him in the Basque Country”.

“If there was an attack in Oñate, Mondragon or in any nearby town, my late father went to the barracks with the funeral home. That was also difficult to assimilate because you realised that people felt that they had killed a uniform while you saw they had killed people. It made you angry. For example, once I had to go to work with my father (Luis Ignacio succeeded his father, Luis, as grave-digger in Bergara) to a place near Zumárraga because they had killed two civil guards in a bomb attack. I went to the barracks to take the coffins and I saw the bodies, one without the head. When you had to collect their belongings and take them to the families, you saw pictures of them as children, of their family … and you felt awful. There was a demonstration calling for peace that day in Zumarraga and my father didn’t let me go”.

“My father was always visiting barracks, after terrorist attacks he also processed insurance papers, he went into the autopsy rooms… So, some people began to speak ill of him. For example, once he was involved in the autopsy of two youngsters who had gone to Aretxabaleta to perpetrate an attack and died in a shoot-out. I’ll never forget that. When they passed the barracks, they let go a burst of machine gun fire and then there was a shoot-out between the Civil Guard and them in Mondragón. Two terrorists aged 19 and 25 died. My late father had to take the coffins. After that, he told me that he felt sorry for the two youngsters, who even had grenades in their pockets. I was 18 then, and I told him he shouldn’t pity them because they had gone out to kill. But he felt sorry because they were just kids”.

“Everyone here said they had been shot to pieces inside their car. My father, as used to be the custom in cemeteries, participated in the autopsy of the bodies with the coroner. He saw one of the terrorists had been shot once and the other had three gunshot wounds. Other people also came into the room and saw everything and they were surprised that there weren’t more wounds given what everybody was saying. My father told them there were no more and retorted whether they wanted him to invent them. This is all there is, what you can see, he told them. This sort of thing left a mark on my father. I don’t know how they allowed so many people to walk into an autopsy room. This is relevant to uncover the lies and exaggerations that have been said about my father. That’s the way it was, if you were “earmarked”, that was it. They also started saying things about me after two years in the job, but thankfully the whole thing seems to have stopped”.

A. Z.: “A time comes when the family realizes that things have started to change and that there is a bad atmosphere. He’d tell me they were after him. I remember I had surgery in Mondragón and he looked very worried. I didn’t know what was wrong with him and I thought that perhaps he had had an argument with my mother. He said that he really wanted me to come back home. When I asked him why, he said that someone had phoned and threatened him. On another occasion, when he went to San Sebastián he said he had been followed down the Deskarga mountain pass. I told him that if he thought he was being followed because he had been with the civil guards to stop seeing them. He told me to leave him alone if that was what I thought. But I told him to stop going to see them, because they were even watching his car that was parked near the house”.

L. D.:
“If he was in a bar and a couple of civil guards came in, he would talk to them. Just like me. That was almost unthinkable here. There was a kind of barrier and most people didn’t dare talk to them”.

A. Z.: “Once, a Civil Guard car passed our house. There was an acquaintance in it and I waved goodbye. He told me not to wave or speak to them because it would compromise me. That it would be better not to wave to them”.

“One day my husband and I went to the barracks to take a coffin. We went in and met some civil guards on their way out. We were talking to them for a while and there was a young man of around 20 I felt sorry for. He told me that they knew when they left home, but not whether they would be coming back. There was lots of hatred”.

L. D.: “When they murdered my father, they told me that if I saw them in the street, not to look at them so as not to put myself at risk. But I didn’t care, because they were people who had done me no wrong. After my father received the telephone threat saying he had three days to leave the Basque Country, he went to talk to a HB council member, Jose Luis Elkoro, to see what was happening. He told my father that they had nothing against him and not to worry. After that, rumours started to be circulated about town about my father and some people even asked him whether he was going to leave. He didn’t want to leave, because if he did he would be proving them right; he would be implying that he had done something while he had never done anything to anybody. But if he had left, people would have thought that he had reasons to leave. He had been marked”.

“Some time after my father had received the telephone threat, there was another incident. My father was in a bar where there were other people from the town and some civil guards. One of the civil guards got into a row with someone and there was a ruckus. A youngster took the gun from the officer and threw it into the river that was just outside the bar. The person who had thrown the gun into the river told my father to ask the civil guards not to do anything to him. The next day, the Civil Guard made him a go to the scene as a witness while they were looking for the gun in the river. That was the final straw, because then everyone saw things as they wanted. But he was just there. The phone call was around July, this event happened in December and they murdered my father on 25th January. It was like a person with cancer who knows he is going to die, but he said that if he left he would be implying that he had done something”.

“People have come to me to tell me that my father was involved in extreme right-wing issues, saying that there was evidence, photographs… I told them to prove it, to show those photographs, but there was nothing, only rumours. One day, for half an hour, a person was telling my brother and me, after karate lessons, that he had seen a friend of our father’s (Luis Berasategui, later killed by ETA) carrying chains and a gun, like the Cristo Rey militants did and then go into his shop. After half an hour arguing, I almost started to believe it, but in the end he told us that he hadn’t seen it himself, but a close friend of his had. I told him to think a bit, because I, not being a close friend, had started to have doubts given his insistence. It was very easy to speak, but no-one ever proved anything”.

A. Z.: “The day they killed my husband was the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas and it was a holiday at the high school. I used to work cleaning offices. When I finished work I found an enormous nail in one of my car’s tyres because they knew that I would sometimes go to lock-up the cemetery with my husband. This would make sure that I would not be there when they were going to kill him. He never let my son use the car because he was afraid they would mistake our son for him”.

“During this latest period, he was afraid. One night he came back from a football match with two of our children. When he went to the bathroom, my husband felt that someone was looking through the window and, when he turned round, he heard someone stepping on some boards outside”.

“My memories of the day of the attack are appalling. I was at home with Berasategui’s widow, who had come over with her daughter. Luis came home, he made some garlic soup and then went to work at the cemetery. Later they phoned me to say he had been shot. I ran to a friend’s house to ask her to take me there”.

“They must have called him by his name to make him turn around and shoot him. The first shot hit him in the knee and he tried to get into some gardens nearby. Then, they caught him and, holding his head up, shot him in the head. When they heard the shots in the barracks they immediately thought it was against Luis, because the cemetery was very close to the barracks. When I got there I saw him on the ground near the cemetery gate, but they did not allow me to come near”.

L. D.: “I was at the Town Square and I saw people talking, after an ambulance had left. I was already fearing the worst. I walked down the street and saw people looking at me and I thought ‘that’s it’. When I got home, they told me”.

A. Z.: “The day after Luis had been murdered, the newspapers published whatever they wanted. They tried to justify those that had killed him, suggesting that there must have been a reason for killing him. His brother went to a kiosk in the square, bought all the newspapers and burned them. In addition to killing a person, they were slandering him”.

L. D.: “After my father had been murdered, lots of people came to our house to show their support. People also came to the funeral, but many didn’t come because they were concerned about what might happen later. In case something similar happened to them. Some were close friends that my father had helped on many occasions”.

A. Z.:
“When they killed Luis, I had a job, thank God. I tried to raise my children without hate, because my eldest children were 20 and 19… I would go to work as always”.

L. D.: “Every attack reminded us of my father. We would hope all this would come to an and, that it would be the last. We wanted everything to be solved so that it would be better for everyone”.

“I also had to put up with things similar to what happened to my father, with people criticising me about town. One year after my father died, Telesforo Monzon (one of the founders of Herri Batasuna) died and I buried him. Jose Luis Elkoro, with whom I must say that I get along well, was there. Many people came to the funeral. We buried him and everything went well. Elkoro congratulated us because the funeral had gone off well. But the next day a friend asked me whether anyone had said anything to me at the funeral. I made him tell me what was going on, why he was asking me that because I hadn’t done anything. He told me that kids at high school were saying that the same was going to happen to me as had happened to my father, that I belonged to Fuerza Nueva (a far-right political party that was involved in several attacks during the transition to democracy in Spain) and that we had sought out relatives of ETA members asking them who had killed my father and threatening that if they didn’t tell us we were going to kill someone”.

“Later, I also remember one day my mother and I arriving home and finding my late sister crying. She said a woman had called and wanted to speak to my mother and to me. As we were not at home, she told my sister that if my mother carried on as she was, she would end up like my father. We went to the City Council and told them what was happening. They told us not to take any notice; that it was just people looking for something to talk about. Everything they said about us were lies. Sometime later, the situation calmed down”.

“Some people stopped talking to me at the time because of what had happened. Finally they started speaking to me again and, in that sense, I’m not spiteful. I let things go and I hoped everything would improve. I support releasing the prisoners, but it bothers me if they come out as heroes. It’s tough. I have a close friend who just got out of jail. I used to talk with him, sometimes we would argue and then be good friends again. With others, however, you would see them and they were almost embarrassed to see you. Why, if I haven’t done anything to anyone?”

“If I ever came across a demonstration in town, I would never get out of the way. I would not go after them, but if they came towards me, I wouldn’t get out of the way. I was angry and full of hatred. But in the end I’ve always been able to forgive”.

A. Z.: “Time cures everything. At first we went through some very, very difficult years, because apart from murdering my husband, they were still slandering him. Until people began to realize that things were not as rumour had it and then they started to support us. I think most older people realized from the beginning, because they knew Luis and that he would not hurt anyone. Things have been getting better over time”.

L. D.: “Eventually you get over the killing, but just as I can now say that I would like to see some prisoners released; if there were another attack I might just say the opposite and really radically. Thank heavens it’s over now, because hatred is not getting us anywhere. And there’s still a lot of hatred on both sides. Even before it happened to my dad, I had to deliver coffins because of terrorist attacks. The worst part for me was the way people reacted, the fear … I couldn’t understand why people were not more sensitive. People preferred not to say anything in order to protect themselves, but if people had demonstrated whenever there was an attack, it would have been different”.

“Sometimes I would also think that I was to blame in part because I refused to keep quiet. Before the threat, I would speak to people in the street and confront them by asking whether we were animals or what”.

A. Z.: “Luis never spoke about politics. In those days, on the feast of All Saints or during the Aberri Eguna (Basque Fatherland Day) he would open the cemetery at 6 in the morning. He also saw people distributing leaflets when that was forbidden, but he never said anything to anyone but me. On another occasion, we were driving along and we came across a car accident, and it turned out that they had ETA propaganda and he said nothing about it. They put it in our car so that when the Civil Guard arrived, they wouldn’t find it”.

L. D.: “When someone came up to me to tell me something about my father, I asked them who had been arrested in Bergara that warranted such an opinion. If my father had told the Civil Guard something, someone would have been arrested. But there were no arrests, nothing. There were some after his murder, because someone had done it. Although I don’t care who they were. As I have said in interviews; I’m not interested in the name of the person who murdered my father because, in the end, it was people’s words that killed him. It would have been one terrorist or another”.

“Leaving Bergara has never crossed our minds. It’s a small town and depending who you meet you can detect looks, gestures … If you’re angry and you see these things, you get angrier. For example, I didn’t go to the Gesto por la Paz (Gesture for Peace) demonstrations that were held at the pelota courts every Friday. I heard that some kids from here had gone looking for someone I knew and then attacked him. Since then I have been to all of them. We had a banner calling for peace, and sometimes had to endure insults. We could see them opposite use and we had to put up with it”.

A. Z.: “You can’t live full of hatred. I deal with many people who see things in a different way, but all that is required is for them to respect me and for me to respect them”.