Congress snubs PP stance on anti-terrorism policy

12th December 2007, Comments 0 comments

Opposition party seeks to outlaw Basque radicals outright.

12 December 2007

MADRID - Congress on Tuesday rejected a motion tabled by conservative lawmakers calling for the immediate outlawing of a radical Basque party accused of supporting ETA, reopening political divisions over counterterrorism policy little more than a week after two Spanish Civil Guard officers were gunned down by the Basque terrorist group in southwestern France.

The main opposition Popular Party presented the motion calling for the outlawing of Basque Nationalist Action (ANV) as part of a package of proposed measures to strengthen the fight against ETA. It also called for the statute of limitations on terrorist crimes to be removed and demanded Congress revoke a 2005 motion that authorised the government to negotiate with ETA.

"The defeat of ETA is the principal goal of our democratic state. It is the opposite of negotiating with ETA," PP spokesman Ignacio Astarloa told lawmakers.

Yesterday's debate echoed previous sessions in which the governing Socialist Party faced down accusations of having been soft on ETA during a 15-month ceasefire that the terrorist group formally ended in June. The murders of the Civil Guard officers on 1 December have served to reignite tensions. The PP is demanding that the government immediately move to outlaw ANV, an initiative that government sources acknowledged this week the administration is planning anyway, but only once it has compiled sufficient evidence. Most significantly, the PP also wants to remove limits on how long after the event a terrorist crime can be prosecuted. "We need to send the terrorists a message that their time will come," Astarloa said.

All other parties rejected the proposals, with some lawmakers accusing the PP of acting "opportunistically" ahead of elections in three months time.

[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ A. EATWELL 2007]

Subject: Spanish news

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