On May, 25, 1988, ETA killed her brother, Sebastián Aizpiri, a restaurant owner in Eibar.  Years later, Ana suffers the defamation of the radical people.


Name: Ana Aizpiri

Age: -

Profession: Journalist

Family status: -

RISK GROUP: Murdered family



- On May, 28, 1988, ETA killed her brother, Sebastián Aizpiri.


“My brother was murdered on May 25, 1988. His murder came after ETA and their grass roots had been spreading the rumour, in the town of Elgoibar, a small town of 13,000 inhabitants, that my brother was a drug dealer. My brother owned a butcher’s with a partner in Elgoibar and, with another of my brothers, he ran a restaurant in the nearby town of Eibar. He always did the same: from Monday to Saturday he worked at the butcher’s in Elgoibar, and then, always at about the same time, he would go to the restaurant to work. He used to cook and socialise with the customers. He used to follow a routine. An easy target for terrorists”.

“They had already told Sebastian that his name had appeared on a long list of people – small businessmen, industrialists and professionals – from the Basque Country that they had found during an operation against ETA in the French Basque Region (the Sokoa papers). The police offered him protection. He refused. Shortly after this, they killed him. Ten days later, they killed another person in Eibar, another small businessman from town, who had a business, and against whom the radicals orchestrated a similar campaign as the one against my brother”.

“We must remember that in the interval between the two murders, in those ten days, many things happened. There was an unprecedented demonstration in Elgoibar and, above all, in Eibar, against the murder. People close to my brother and those who could have been open to extortion by ETA got scared. Many people left.  There was a noticeable reaction, fear, but also a rejection of ETA, which until then had never happened”.

“It was something unexpected by the people. My brother was a person who used to speak to everyone in the restaurant. People of all kinds, also nationalists. Everyone was shocked”.

“When they called home to tell us that someone had shot my brother, I couldn’t believe it.”

“Later we found out that the rumours they had spread around the town about my brother and the other person they also killed later were so serious that both of them had gone to talk to a council member of Herri Batasuna at the Eibar City Council to explain that the rumours were not true. And she told them she would talk to those in the French Basque Region (clandestine area for ETA activists)”

“My brother, and the other person they murdered later, Patxi Zabaleta, were people, like many others, who didn’t realize the significance of the threat to which they were exposed. If they didn’t give in to blackmail, extortion, and pay up, they would be killed. And that’s what happened in the end”.

“I think the Herri Batasuna people went through a very delicate time. That episode transcended many spheres. During those days people were looking at them, looking for some type of reaction. They came under pressure. They even paid for an advertisement in a newspaper to say they regretted the murder (this was not a press release driven by a political debate). During those fifteen days after the murder, I became convinced of the collusion between the terrorists and HB; the same as many others had seen before, incidentally. The problem was that no-one had dared to say it. I did when I met a reporter and talked about all I had experienced in those days. I said that Herri Batasuna did the dirty work for ETA. They were the people who followed the targets, reported on them, extended rumours or provided the terrorist organisation with false data, as happened with my brother”.

“After my brother had been murdered,  journalists from Egin[1], a newspaper that defended and gave voice to the terrorist organisation, came to town to ask the people to see if someone said something that linked my brother in any way with drugs; anything to give credence to that slanderous campaign they had orchestrated against him in the months before his assassination. They found they had no convincing arguments. In fact, my brother and Patxi had asked the town councils of Eibar and Elgoibar to investigate them. They had nothing to hide. My brother had loans from the banks, he had some debts, like any businessman. His accounts were transparent. Anybody could see what he had and didn’t have and he was certainly not involved in any type of illegal activity whatsoever”.

“During the conversation, mentioned above, that my brother and Patxi had with that HB Council Member, when she told them she would talk to those in the French Basque Region, something we all knew became clear: that, in those years, the people who were subject to extortion by ETA, spoke to ETA contacts and paid them in one way or another – they were negotiating the lives of people. But my brother and Patxi didn’t do that. And they killed them”.

“My brother was killed because he did not yield to blackmail. Because he did not collaborate with the terrorists in any possible way. If he had sent an envelope with some money, he might be alive. But he didn’t. ”

“I miss my brother and I have this grief; grief that all my family is suffering, especially my parents. But I’m proud of my brother, because he was a completely honest person, who from his youth fought for what he wanted and what he had and he did not yield to blackmail. I understand those who have yielded to blackmail and paid up because of the fear and dread such a situation causes, and it is understandable and very human. But I think opposing threats and extortion, as my brother did, is brave, especially at that time when ETA was so well established in the Basque Country”.

“In those days after Sebastian’s murder, I made a number of statements that caused expectation in the Spanish press. It was an impulse, but I was one of the first people who clearly said what was happening here, the circumstances in which many people were living in the Basque Country; I talked about how people were being killed in the Basque Country. Nobody had ever spoken so clearly, and many people thanked me for that”.

“The Ajuria Enea Agreement had been signed in January of that year[2]. For me, the Ajuria Enea Agreement became reality at that moment, when all the political groups, except Herri Batasuna, demonstrated behind a single banner to protest against ETA. There was a demonstration in Elgoibar and another in Eibar. These were demonstrations “against ETA”, bluntly. And people took to the streets, but with fear, because everyone saw that they had killed a person who had led a completely normal life, and that frightened other people in town”.

“Those that murdered my brother were the same people that killed Patxi Zabaleta ten days later. They were tried and imprisoned. It was proven that people from the town had collaborated to murder my brother and Patxi. This type of situation in a small town makes you feel very upset and it’s very difficult to get over it. Personally, I was relieved to see that justice was done and that the culprits were prosecuted. But I also felt helpless. You have the comfort of friends who support you and encourage you; you know you are not alone but, at the same time, you feel very isolated. You have to learn to live with that irreparable grief”.

“Years after my brother had been murdered, while I was working in ETB, the HB crowd, sickeningly, I have to say, circulated the rumour that I had been arrested in Barajas airport carrying cocaine. I thought it was so bizarre, so irrational, so Kafkaesque that I didn’t take any notice. When I told my brother, Pedro, he became to upset that he made me contact the regional Interior Minister of the Basque Government at the time, JM Atutxa. He arranged to meet me in his office; he made a few calls and confirmed that the HB lot in Eibar and Elgoibar had launched this rumour. Of course, what could be better than a rumour, a resource rarely studied at that time but very useful and effective in these environments. Rumours were the perfect instrument to influence people who had less information or who were biased and to try to hurt me. I was living in Eibar at the time. Fortunately, the town didn’t accept that and the people realised that the rumours were totally unfounded. But it was very unpleasant for me; after having killed my brother, they tried this with me because this was clearly in retaliation for my statements on Herri Batasuna’s involvement, as I mentioned above”.

“It was funny how I experienced the strange and paradoxical feeling of being afraid but, at the same time, knowing that, after killing my brother, they wouldn’t kill me. Words were my only resource. And I used them to say what I saw and what I thought. I didn’t let fear stop me. I was afraid, because when all this happened, I used to look underneath my car. But at the same time, I had a feeling that nothing would happen to me”.

“Ten days after killing my brother, ETA killed Patxi Zabaleta. That night, before I heard the news, my father told us that Patxi’s son, a colleague from the Elgoibar “ikastola” (school), had told him that the next victim would be his father. I got angry with my father for telling us that, for giving fuel to what I considered a village rumour. But that was what actually happened and Patxi was killed that night”.

“Saying loud and clear that HB are accomplices of ETA, marked a vital point for me. This is why many people hold me in great esteem and many people hate me. But this is something that many people have gone through in the Basque Country. People who have made their political stances public over the years. People who have displayed great bravery. I had that impulse, not to be quiet in the face of something that was obvious. I wasn’t afraid to say anything, because they had just killed my brother. I said what I had to say”.

“I work for EiTB[3]. The Basque public television is a medium in which some departments have an ideological orientation, and that always has its importance. I went through a terrible experience, really dreadful; an experience that everyone knew about but I had very little support from my colleagues. ETB could have played an important role in the struggle against terrorism, undermining it, but it hasn’t done so. I find that disturbing”.

“I went through all this alone and with a feeling of frustration. You come up against the political reality of this region. In this region, some governments have had bedfellows that have co-operated with those who murdered my brother. You realize how distant we are from each other. How different our positions”.

“My brother was a lively, energetic, hardworking person. He was always inventing and creating. If he were alive, I’m sure he would be doing some type of creative cuisine or something. He was a nice person and well-loved. A good person”.

[1] Egin: Basque newspaper closed by the Spanish courts in 1998 due to its links to ETA.

[2] The “Ajuria Enea Agreement for the Normalisation and Pacification of the Basque Country” (January 1988). A political agreement headed by the lehendakari (Regional Prime Minister) in which all the signatories (all groups represented at that time in the Basque Parliament, with the exception of HB) agreed on “the need to end terrorism and to prosecute the perpetrators”.

[3] EiTB: Euskal Irrati Telebista (Basque public radio-television).

*Related documents: EL País