The brother of the Basque political prisoner from Basuari who died last Saturday in the Parisian hospital at Petriere, speaks with rage and emotion close to the surface. He denounces the inhumane treatment that the French authorities and doctors gave to the Basque prisoner and his family and friends. Also, he puts into doubt the official version offered by French authorities, stating that Xabier Lopez Peña left on foot from the prison at Fleury and that, just as was explained by the doctor who operated on him, the heart operation turned out “perfect”. The case brings up many doubts.
The fatal outcome of has been sudden and fatal, he died barely three weeks ago. What does the family blame, considering that we are facing medical negligence?
The facts, the proof, the concealment around this subject reveal a total negligence with the possible influence of the French and Spanish states.
How was his previous medical situation?
It was normal, he had a failure in one of his veins but he was fine within reason.
What kind of treatment was he receiving?
He only had treatment for the vein that was obstructed, but nothing else.
Was he attended trustworthy doctors or exclusively by those at the prison?
Just by those at the prison. Those that he trusted weren’t allowed. There existed a complete secrecy about his treatment. In one case they even had to suspend a visit because he was being treated in a hospital and they hadn’t advised the family.
What did he say about his time in prison, did he have complaints about his treatment in Fleury?
Up to that date he didn’t complain much. Three years ago they tried to put a catheter in his arm but it couldn’t be done. Then, they told him that the only solution was to put a tube, a bypass, which is exactly the operation they had to do when his situation worsened.
He was hospitalized on the 11th, according to what we knew last Wednesday. When and how did the family know about this situation? Did they tell you that it was so serious?
On Monday, March 11th, he left the prison on his foot, according to what other prisoners’ families have told us, to go to the hospital at Fleury. That same day they gave him a catheter and on Wednesday they brought him to the hospital of Salpetriere in Paris. On the 14th he had the bypass operation, information that didn’t get to the family until the 19th. Not knowing anything about him, his lawyer Yolanda Molina called the prison, and they didn’t know anything there. They called the doctors and they didn’t know anything. On Tuesday, a nurse, a “kind soul”, confirmed to us that Xabier was in Salpetriere. Some family members, together with the lawyer, went to the hospital and asked, and he wasn’t anywhere. Xabier Lopez Peña wasn’t listed as being hospitalized. The doctors and nurses refused to tell us anything. They had look for him door by door, floor by floor. My brother was kidnapped. In the end they were able to find the room because he was being guarded by three gendarmes.
From that moment, could you see him and talk to him? Did you receive direct information about his state?
No, at that moment they didn’t let us in. They only informed Yolanda that he had been operated on. But no other information, nothing. We didn’t know if he had authorized the operation. The lawyer told us to go there, that he was seriously ill. Arriving there, they didn’t let us see him. On the following day they let us see him for half an hour, two by two. He couldn’t speak and couldn’t coordinate himself well, and he was hooked up to a machine that we didn’t even know if it worked.
Jaiki Hadi says they don’t understand why they didn’t put him in the ICU. Have they given you any explanation in this respect?
No, the doctors haven’t wanted to say anything. On Tuesday the 19th we were able to speak to the doctor who operated on his heart and he ended up confessing to us that “the cerebral state of Xabier when he got to my hands was the same as it is now”. That is, from Fleury to Salpetriere, something had to have happened, because he left fine, on foot, from Fleury to Salpetriere he arrived in a bad way. And it wasn’t in the heart operation, which, in words of the doctor, had turned out “perfect”.
On Thursday his situation worsened. What happened exactly?
On Thursday the 21st we could each see him for an hour, and on Friday too, and now we could see that he was bad, but we were convinced, because the doctors told us so, that he would recover, if not totally, almost. And the following Thursday, the 28th, without any other news in between, we found out that they had to move him to the neurological ICU.
From there he died barely two days later. Was there any direct information from the hospital in these 48 hours?
Nothing at all. Xabier Lopez Peña was disappeared for 48 hours. He died at 1 o’clock in the morning on Saturday, according to the doctors, from a brain stroke. There we found out, at that moment, that the neurological lesion was a stroke.
Was the family consulted at some moment by the doctors about the treatment that was being applied in these decisive hours?
No, nothing, not a single consultation.
How did you find out about the death and to what point were you surprised?
The following day, Saturday at midday, his sister and his lawyer had a visit, and going into the room they found it completely new, clean and without gendarmes. When they asked they simply told them “He died”. Twelve hours after the death until finding out. If they didn’t go to visit they wouldn’t have found out until today. It surprised all of us; we didn’t expect to see him dead.
The French government has put a blanket of silence on the subject. Do you think they have something to hide?
They treated him like a dog, they killed him, they got rid of him. They made sure that he didn’t speak. He already advised his companion that he wasn’t going to make it to declare in the trial. He smelled something. I was with him three months ago and he told me “I am not going to commit suicide, if something happens to me, you’ll know what happened”. And with the silence about the case it gives way to any hypothesis. We believe that they wanted to cover up information about the negotiating process of 2005-2007.
The family has announced legal initiatives. Of what kind? Against who? What is your objective?
We’re still not very clear about it. Because we lack a lot of information, but what is clear is if there is no information, there are no reports, there are reasons to impute those responsible for this.