The Collective of Victims of Terrorism (Covite) wrote an open letter on Wednesday complaining about the error which they found on a database published on a Basque government website designed to provide information about victims of terrorism
One of the search filters on the database allows users to narrow down the information by who was responsible for the attack, bringing up a list of various terrorist organizations like Basque group Eta, along with the Civil Guard.
Covite said the inclusion was especially offensive given that the Civil Guard has “particularly suffered from terrorist violence”.
“Covite believes it is outrageous that the Basque government called the Civil Guard a 'terrorist group',” the group said in the statement.
The Civil Guard had somehow been included on the list due to an incident in 1979 when their officers mistakenly killed plainclothes police inspector Santos Sampedro Lozano, who they mistook for an aggressor while he was on patrol.
Sampedro had been patrolling an area of San Sebastián for the National Police in the early hours of the morning with a partner when they saw a suspicious car. They drew their guns and approached the car to see who was inside, but when the car's occupants – who were patrolling the same area, also in plainclothes, for the Civil Guard – saw the pair come towards them with guns, they opened fire and killed Sampedro.
The search tool also had several other errors, including omitting 19 victims from the total number of people who had been killed in Eta attacks.
Photo: A screenshot by Covite of the website before it was taken down.
Covite wrote in their statement that they had told the leader of the Basque government Íñigo Urkullu that if the site was not corrected, the group would file a criminal complaint.
The Basque government has already taken the site down since the complaint, saying in a statement to newspaper ABC that the website had still been under construction and had been mistakenly launched due to a computer error.
“Given the situation that has been created, the Government wishes to state that we have proceeded with the immediate withdrawal of the database so it is no longer publicly accessible online,” the statement said. “We have proceeded to clarify this incident and to offer an apology.”
The statement added that the government has been in contact with the Interior Ministry and clarified the definition of the Civil Guard as a terrorist group. The government said it has also been in touch with victims' groups to apologize.