ETA 'to make a symbolic surrender of arms'

15th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

15 March 2007, MADRID – Reports suggested ETA was about to make a symbolic surrender of arms stolen from a French gun factory.

15 March 2007

MADRID – Reports suggested ETA was about to make a symbolic surrender of arms stolen from a French gun factory.

Intereconomia radio station said the group was preparing to hand over some 100 of the 350 pistols it stole from a French arms dealership last October.

"It would be a public relations exercise for the group, which would in no way diminish its operational capacity," the station said in a press release, which did not identify sources.

The Spanish interior ministry refused to comment on the report.

But it came after Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero denied his government's decision to move a hunger-striking ETA prisoner to house arrest was giving into blackmail.

He said the decision was made in accord with the law.

The Socialist premier's comments came during parliamentary question time in response to a barbed query from the head of conservative opposition.

Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy asked the prime minister whether in the wake of last weekend's big demonstration in Madrid against the house-arrest decision he planned to amend "the favourable treatment" given to ETA's Jose Ignacio "Iñaki" de Juana Chaos.

The PP says the concession of house arrest constitutes a "surrender to blackmail" by ETA, which is deemed a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States.

Hundreds of thousands turned out Saturday for a PP-organised protest in Madrid against the decision on De Juana, who engaged in a four-month hunger strike to protest his continuing incarceration on charges of justifying terrorism after becoming eligible for parole on his earlier conviction for murder.

Zapatero, after stressing his "maximum respect" for free expression, said on Wednesday that his approach to the issue of terrorism is a "state policy," and he expressed regret over not having had "a single day" of support from the PP on that front since taking office in April 2004.

"Likewise in the De Juana Chaos case," the premier said to jeers from the PP members of Parliament.

Rajoy countered that it was Zapatero who broke the anti-terrorist pact signed by their respective parties in 2000 - when the conservatives were in power - and that the PP backed the Socialists approach after ETA announced a cease-fire last March, "until you did the one thing I asked you not to do".

The PP leader was referring to contacts between the government and Batasuna, the outlawed political arm of ETA.

ETA has killed more than 800 people over the last four decades in its campaign for an independent Basque nation comprising parts of northern Spain and southwestern France.

Since the advent of Spain's system of regional autonomy in 1978, the Basque region has been governed by the centrist, moderate- nationalist PNV, which denounces terrorism while insisting on something close to full independence from Madrid.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news


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