The Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares, received this Friday at the ministry's headquarters the Spanish aid worker Juana Ruiz, who spent ten months in a prison in Israel accused of collaborating, through an NGO, in the financing of a group considered terrorist by the authorities of that country. The meeting took place at noon at the request of the humanitarian worker, according to sources from the ministerial department, who explain that she wanted to thank the work of the consular services during her arduous judicial journey. They have also talked about her current situation, according to the same sources.
The Government recognizes that it must ensure that the activist detained by Israel has all the judicial "guarantees"
Ruiz was arrested at her home in Beit Sahur, near Bethlehem, on April 13, 2021, accused of using the Palestinian NGO Health Work Committees (HWC) to finance the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which Israel considers terrorist. However, she was initially held for almost a month without formal charges. Married to a Palestinian and mother of two children, Ruiz had lived for more than 35 years in the West Bank, where she dedicated herself to humanitarian work.
An Israeli military court sentenced her to 13 months in prison and to pay 14,000 euros of a fine after accepting the plea agreement with the Prosecutor's Office when he had already spent seven months in prison. However, the aid worker always maintained that she had no knowledge of the final destination of the funds collected by the NGO. In February this year, a prison committee accepted parole for the 63-year-old woman and his release from Damon prison, in the city of Haifa, in northern Israel, took place on the 7th of that month.
The government had to mediate with Israel so that he had decent conditions during his incarceration as well as the corresponding legal assistance in the judicial procedure, which was military. Specifically, the Consulate General in Jerusalem and the Embassy in Tel Aviv mobilized to provide "exhaustive assistance" to the woman after being detained through consular visits to the prison as well as assistance in court hearings, according to the Ministry of Justice. Foreign Affairs in a parliamentary response sent to ERC and EH Bildu.
The Executive also recognized that its staff in Israel had to make "managements and to request the improvement of the conditions of the detainee, especially food, hygiene and care and that all phases of the process be held with full guarantees" . In fact, Ruiz was detained for weeks without any charges being brought against her, with regular interrogations without proper legal assistance. It was Spanish pressure, according to the Government, that allowed the trial date to be delayed so that the activist's lawyer, who had only been able to visit her once, had time to prepare her defense.