Batasuna claims detention is politically motivated

26th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

26 May 2005, SAN SEBASTIAN — The banned Basque nationalist party Batasuna accused the Spanish government of being behind the detention of its spokesman.

26 May 2005

SAN SEBASTIAN — The banned Basque nationalist party Batasuna accused the Spanish government of being behind the detention of its spokesman.

Batasuna, which was outlawed for its links to ETA, called on supporters to demonstrate against the imprisonment.

Judge Fernando Grande Marlaska ordered Arnaldo Otegi detained on charges of belonging to the armed separatist movement ETA pending payment of EUR 400,000 bail.

"The Socialist party and the government of Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero are primarily responsible for the detention" of Otegi, the party's deputy spokesman, Joseba Permach, said in a press conference in San Sebastian.

"Of course, Batasuna does not have the means to pay this bail," Permach said, speaking after a party leadership meeting.

Permach said Otegi's family would try to raise the money through mortgages and that Batasuna would appeal to its supporters if necessary.

The party urged its supporters to protest the detention in front of all Socialist party offices in the northern Basque region.

Another demonstration would be held in front of the ruling party's offices in Bilbao.

Permach, however, said the arrests would not change the party's proposal for a political solution to the decades-old conflict, including direct talks between the government and ETA.

"Today, Batasuna reiterates its commitment despite the imprisonment of Otegi. No external agent will be able to change the strategy of the independent left," he said.

The same judge who ordered Otegi's arrest on Wednesday also issued an international arrest warrant against Jon Salaberria, a former Batasuna legislator in the Basque regional parliament, judicial sources said.

The Spanish judiciary suspects Otegi and Salaberria as being involved in financing of ETA in pro-nationalist taverns in the northern Basque region.

Batasuna is widely seen as ETA's political mouthpiece.

Otegi and Salaberria no longer have parliamentary immunity which they lost following the 17 April regional election in which Batasuna candidates were barred from standing after the Spanish authorities outlawed the group in March 2003.

ETA is blamed for the deaths of some 800 people in a four-decade campaign of violence to win independence for the Basque region spanning the Pyrenees in northern Spain and south-western France.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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