Andrés Krakenberger

Right to life (fight against the death penalty).
Andrés Krakenberger Spain
Asociación contra la pena de muerte Pablo Ibar
A Basque human rights activist, currently spokesperson of the Pablo Ibar Association against the Death Penalty. Pablo Ibar is the only Spanish person sentenced to death worldwide. After two trials not exempt from irregularities, in 2000 the Broward County Court of Florida (United States) pleaded guilty to Pablo Ibar of a triple murder in 1994. Although neither the fingerprints nor the DNA collected in the scene of the crime coincides with those of Pablo Ibar, he has been imprisoned for more than 20 years and more than 14 in the corridor of death in a prison of Starke, in the state of Florida. The main proof that bases the accusation is a blurry and low-quality image taken from a video surveillance camera that resembles Pablo Ibar. Currently, Pablo Ibar’s defense has appealed to the Supreme Court of Florida, the ruling issued in 2012 by the Broward County Court that dismissed the cancellation and repetition of the trial to Pablo Ibar, despite recognizing that they had the same irregularities as in the trial of Seth Peñalver, the other co-accused of the triple murder.

Fortunately, in 2012, the trial of Seth Peñalver was repeated, who had also been sentenced to death, and he was declared innocent for lack of evidence.

Currently, a Florida judge evaluates the testimony of a witness in the repetition of the trial against Spanish Pablo Ibar, who spent 16 years in the corridor of death until his conviction was annulled in 2016.

Andres Krakenberger has also worked for Amnesty International, as the coordinator of the fight against the death penalty since 1993 until his abolition of the Spanish Military Criminal Code (1995). He has also been president of the Spanish Section of Amnesty International until 2001 and coordinator of Amnesty International of Euskadi and Navarra. On the other hand, he presides the Argituz Pro Human Rights Association, of Basque scope.

Interview with Andrés Krakenberger

After the last appeal presented to the Supreme Court of Florida, what are the possibilities and the next steps in the case of Pablo Ibar?

The statistics are better in the situation in which we now find ourselves before the Florida Supreme Court than with the Broward County Court, but it is also no guarantee of success. If they prove us right, there will be another appeal and the trial should be repeated, this time with a qualified lawyer. We remember that the official lawyer assigned to him was not fit, as he interrupted the trial twice, the first due to a liver disease and the second because he was arrested on charges of sexist violence. In addition, he failed to present the DNA evidence at the appropriate procedural time or the expert evidence of facial recognition based on the surveillance video frames which is the only evidence of the actual charge for which he is sentenced to death Pablo Ibar. If they do not prove us right, we will have to appeal before the federal jurisdiction.

What is Pablo Ibar’s life like?

Tremendously monotonous. Breakfast, exercise, shower twice a week, yard a couple more times a week, eat, isolation, dinner, sleep. During periods of isolation he studies law and, like many other inmates in his situation, has become an expert in his case. He answers each and every one of the letters he receives from many people here. It’s his way of disconnecting.

After so many years on death row, what encourages Pablo Ibar to keep going?

Pablo Ibar’s lawyer always comments that he has several clients on death row and some of them are completely deranged. This is not the case with Pablo. It helps him to be aware of his innocence, the support of his family, of his wife Tanya. His insistence on staying physically and mentally active also stands him in good stead. In this last aspect, the multitude of letters he receives and answers are key. With some people he maintains a correspondence and I would say even an epistolary friendship for years.

How could it be explained that the USA, being the first world power and one of the main promoters of democracy, is the only western country that is among the 5 main executors in the world?

Possibly a perverse effect of democracy itself. In European society we choose our political representatives from a certain level, but the police, prosecutors and judges are civil servants and have to pass national exams. In the United States, the judge is elected, the prosecutor is elected, and the sheriff or police chief is elected and they can be re-elected. To achieve this they want to present a record of zero tolerance against crime and try to prove it by saying that they have been very effective in the fight against crime and that they have arrested so many people, of these a large majority have been found guilty and ‘these many condemned to death. It’s a perverse macabre dance of numbers that keeps them in their places.

After so many years working against the death penalty, what has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to face?

Right now, undoubtedly the case of Pablo Ibar. In the past, the campaign from Amnesty International to abolish the death penalty in the Spanish Military Penal Code, which we finally achieved in 1995. I hope and trust to have an equally favorable outcome in Pablo’s case. I’m often asked if I’m optimistic or pessimistic about it. I always answer the same: it is not a matter of optimism or pessimism. Optimism can lead you astray by overconfidence. Pessimism discourages you. Therefore, neither pessimism nor optimism is useful. The key is only one: determination!

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