Crowds cheer support as Basque leader in court
31 January 2007, BILBAO — The Basque regional prime minister appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday charged with meeting leaders of a terrorist organisation.
31 January 2007
BILBAO — The Basque regional prime minister appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday charged with meeting leaders of a terrorist organisation.
Juan Jose Ibarretxe was accompanied to court by supporters from his own party and a large crowd.
He is accused with meeting members of Batasuna last April.
Ibarretxe is the first leader of the Basque regional government to be indicted in this way.
The charges have been brought by the public prosecutor and a right-wing pressure group called the Foro de Ermua.
The case has brought criticism of the judiciary for bringing this case.
The government has said it is a matter for the judiciary which is independent.
Tens of thousands of people marched in Bilbao on Monday to demand the quashing of the criminal case Ibarretxe for the meeting with the outlawed political wing of the violent separatist group ETA.
Bilbao authorities estimated at roughly 45,000 the turnout on behalf of Ibarretxe, who heads a moderate nationalist coalition which rejects ETA's violence and terror tactics but maintains that talks with Batasuna are necessary to achieve a permanent settlement in the region.
Last April, the month after ETA declared what was supposed to be a permanent cease-fire, Ibarretxe met with representatives of the Batasuna party, which was outlawed for its links to the armed militants who have killed 800 people since 1968 in their campaign to create an independent Basque nation in parts of northern Spain and southwestern France.
The cease-fire was shattered last month when ETA bombed Madrid airport, killing two people.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news