ETA couple jailed for 50 years in trial of year
30 June 2006, MADRID — Two ETA terrorists accused of a murder which captured the attention of the nation were jailed for 50 years each on Friday.
30 June 2006
MADRID — Two ETA terrorists accused of a murder which captured the attention of the nation were jailed for 50 years each on Friday.
Francisco Javier García Gaztelu, called 'Txapote', and Irantxu Gallastegi, called 'Amaia', were convicted of the kidnap and murder of the councillor Miguel Angel Blanco in 1997.
Blanco was kidnapped and later shot after the then government refused to give in to blackmail from ETA.
The killing provoked spontaneous demonstrations against ETA, with six million Spaniards protesting on the streets.
It was the first public show of revulsion against ETA and shocked the terrorist group's leadership.
The sentences were greeted with approval by Blanco's family.
Blanco, a young councillor for the conservative Popular Party, was kidnapped by ETA who gave the then government a 48-hour ultimatum to move their prisoners closer to the Basque Country or Blanco would die.
As the clock ticked away, Blanco's fate gripped the nation.
Minutes after the deadline expired, Blanco was found with gunshots to the head after a botched execution. He died later.
The killing marked a turning point, leading to the decline of support for ETA in its own heartlands in the Basque Country.
It also united all political parties in a common front against terrorism.
Nine years after Blanco's death, his killers went on trial accused of his kidnap and murder, in what was Spain's trial of the year.
García and his girlfriend Gallastegi denied kidnapping and murder.
The pair have previous convictions for ETA membership.
The trial, at a high-security court in Madrid, comes at a highly-charged moment as the Spanish Government announced the start of peace talks with ETA.
ETA declared its first ever permanent ceasefire in March, amid hopes this could be the end of a 38-year-old armed campaign which has cost the lives of 817 people.
García and Gallastegi have also been ordered to pay compensation to Blanco's family.
Terrorist victims' groups were keen to see heavy sentences handed down and no judicial concessions to ETA because of the peace process.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news