ETA prisoners favour victim compensation
Eight former members of armed Basque separatist group ETA who now are in prison have signed a letter in favour of compensating victims of ETA violence, the El Pais newspaper reported Sunday.
"It is necessary to talk about the victims and the recognition-compensation for the damages caused", the letter addressed to all Basque prisoners said.
"It is necessary to begin opening up spaces for understanding and rapprochement between people to facilitate communication and help foster a favourable climate to heal wounds."
"They are taking an important next step and saying it is necessary to compensate the victims and ask for their forgiveness," Spain's interior minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said on the radio station Cadena Ser.
"There have always been disagreements (within ETA), but now they are more important and more public," he added.
The prisoners are serving long sentences in the northern Spanish jail of Nanclares de la Oca.
They have all distanced themselves from ETA's violent activities recently, according to El Pais, which reported in January that six prisoners in Nanclares de la Oca had decided to abandon the armed group.
The eight detainees also asked all 570 Basque prisoners to actively intervene in favour of the resolution of the conflict, as "the prisoners of the IRA had done during the peace process in Northern Ireland", El Pais added.
The letter also criticised the most radical wing of the Basque independent movement for continuing to see prison as a "front for the armed struggle."
ETA, banned as a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States, is blamed for 829 deaths in its 41-year campaign for independence for the Basque region of northern Spain and southwestern France.
© 2010 AFP