ETA may plan attacks in France, trial reveals

7th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

7 March 2007, PARIS - Five ETA militants who declared themselves ready "to die and to kill" for Basque independence were jailed for belonging to a terrorist group.

7 March 2007

PARIS - Five ETA militants who declared themselves ready "to die and to kill" for  Basque independence were jailed for belonging to a terrorist group.

All five of the accused received prison terms ranging from seven to 14 years.

The stiffest sentence went to Xabier Abaunza Martinez, 42, who was convicted of running training and intelligence for ETA up to his arrest in May 2002 in the western French town of Niort.

Prosecutors said Abaunza and cohorts Anartz Oyarzabal Ubierna, 29, Lexuri Gallastegui Sodupe, 37, Manex Zubiaga Bravo, 27, and Angel Maria Lopez Anta, 29, planned to stage attacks against tourist destinations in Spain in the summer of 2002.

All five are to be expelled from France once they are released from prison.

ETA, which is on both the EU and U.S. lists of international terrorist organisations, has killed more than 800 people since 1968 in its campaign for an independent Basque nation comprising parts of northern Spain and southwestern France.

Traditionally, the group has used France as a safe haven and staging area for attacks in Spain, limiting itself on this side of the border to thefts of items - such as vehicles, guns, explosives - used in mounting operations north of the Pyrenees.

But antiterrorist experts in Paris are weighing the possibility that ETA might consider shifting its armed actions to French territory.

That fear was given credence by a statement read into the record by one of the defendants last Thursday at the beginning of the ETA trial in Paris.

Speaking on behalf of all the accused, Zubiago said they proclaim "with pride but without arrogance" that they belong to ETA and demanded that France and Spain resolve the conflict "in an honourable way."

He said that achieving such a solution will require Paris and Madrid to recognize that the Basque region "is neither France nor Spain".

"As long as France does not alter its position, we will seek the political acceptance of the Basque country through our struggle, and we say it very clearly: France will have us to deal with us," he said.

He insisted that France is "part of the conflict and must participate in the solution," but said that he was speaking for himself and the other convicts but not in the name of ETA, which declared a cease-fire last March but shattered its own truce with a deadly bombing at Madrid airport on December 30th. 

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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