Case dropped against Basque separatist leader

22nd March 2007, Comments 0 comments

22 March 2007, MADRID - The prosecution withdrew a charge of glorifying terrorism lodged against the leader of the outlawed radical Basque separatist party Batasuna.

22 March 2007

MADRID - The prosecution withdrew a charge of glorifying terrorism lodged against the leader of the outlawed radical Basque separatist party Batasuna.

Arnaldo Otegi was arrested earlier on Wednesday at his home in northern Spain after failing to show up for a hearing.

Once Otegi finally made it to court, prosecutor Fernando Burgos withdrew the charge, which was based on comments the Batasuna chief made at a public tribute to Olaia Castresana, a member of the armed separatist group ETA who died while handling explosives.

The defendant was brought to Madrid by members of the Civil Guard who arrested Otegi at his residence in the Basque region on the orders of the National Court, angry over the politician's failure to report Wednesday morning for the hearing.

The attorney for Otegi told the judges that his client had set out by car from his home but was forced to turn back by a snowstorm.

After receiving a report from highway authorities that the snow had not rendered the northern roads impassable, the National Court said Otegi's failure to appear was "unjustified" and ordered police to immediately detain the Batasuna chief and bring him to the capital.

Prosecutors had been seeking to put Otegi behind bars for 15 months in the case that was dropped Wednesday.

ETA, deemed a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union, has killed more than 800 people since 1968 in its quest for an independent Basque state comprising parts of northern Spain and southwestern France. Batasuna was outlawed in 2003 after the courts concluded it was an extension of the armed group.

Otegi is currently appealing another conviction for praising terrorism.

That case arose from the Batasuna's leader's comments at a December 2003 event in honor of the late Jose Miguel Beñaran Ordeñana, a participant in ETA's 1973 assassination of Adm. Luis Carrero Blanco, who served as prime minister in the later years of the Franco dictatorship.

Otegi still faces additional indictments for the offense of praising terrorism as well as a separate charge for membership in a terrorist organization.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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