Daughter of ETA murder victim urged Spaniards to "go and vote"
Funeral of Isaías Carrasco, an ex-town councillor, drew thousands of mourners10 March 2008
MADRID - Thousands of mourners, including members of Spain's political elite, gathered in the Basque Country town of Mondragón Saturday to pay their last respects to Isaías Carrasco, a former Socialist councillor who was shot and killed by ETA a day earlier.
Although the terrorist group has not officially claimed responsibility for the killing, police believe the method used - five 9mm Parabellum bullets shot at close range - bears the hallmarks of ETA. Investigators on Sunday said the perpetrator is likely a liberado - a hired killer who is not a member of any existing ETA cell, and who is therefore not on police records. Security forces also believe ETA may have a hideout in or near Mondragón, which would explain why the suspect has not been found even though police launched a search operation just five minutes after the shooting.
The assassination, which came shortly before Sunday's general elections, was widely viewed as a message by the Basque terrorist group that they are still active and able to set the national agenda - both main parties, the Socialists and the opposition Popular Party (PP), suspended their campaigning as a sign of respect for the victim, and Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero accused ETA of trying to "interfere" with the vote.
Sandra Carrasco, the assassinated councillor's daughter, made a public speech on Saturday imploring Spaniards to go and vote. A day earlier, she and her mother heard gunshots outside their home and ran out to find Isaías lying in a pool of blood inside his car. After failing to be elected in last year's municipal ballot, Carrasco decided to dispense with the service of a bodyguard, an option available to all elected Basque officials - even those who have left office.
"This is what I ask: that everyone go and vote; that anyone who feels sympathy for my father go and vote," said Sandra, 20, before a silent audience at the funeral. She also asked that "my father's assassination not be manipulated by anybody."
Her words reflected the bitter dispute between the Socialists and the PP over antiterrorism policy throughout this term, marked by the government's failed attempt at peace negotiations with ETA. In fact, even though prominent representatives from both parties apparently put their differences aside to attend the funeral, there was a moment of tension at the wake when the leader of the Basque Socialists, Patxi López, told PP leader and election candidate Mariano Rajoy: "I hope no one in your party will ever say again that we Socialists attack or betray the victims of terrorism, or that we yield to terrorists."
According to López, Carrasco's family insisted on not coming into direct contact with PP representatives at the funeral, where the central government was represented by Deputy Prime Minister María Teresa Fernández de la Vega. The Basque regional premier, Juan José Ibarretxe, was also present.
[Copyright EL PAÍS 2008]