ETA trial in chaos as victim's family expelled

19th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

20 June 2006 , MADRID — The trial of two ETA terrorists accused of a murder which captured the attention of the nation has descended into chaos.

20 June 2006

MADRID —  The trial of two ETA terrorists accused of a murder which captured the attention of the nation has descended into chaos.

Family and friends of the victim were expelled from the courtroom after shouting abuse at the two defendants.

It followed an emotive opening speech by the prosecutor Miguel Angel Carballo, who said: "We cannot understand the indifference of the accused."

He was referring to the way the two ETA terrorists,  Francisco Javier García Gaztelu 'Txapote' y a Irantxu Gallastegi 'Amaia', smiled and chatted among themselves while the mother of murdered councillor Miguel Angel Blanco recounted the day her son was kidnapped in 1997.

Blanco was 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.

After the outburst from the family, the presiding judge expelled the family and supporters who shouted more insults at the accused.

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 mass public demonstrations stunned the ETA leadership.

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 alleged killers were yesterday accused of his murder, in what is Spain's trial of the year.

García and his girlfriend Gallastegi deny 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 prepares to start 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 face up 50 years in jail and will be ordered to pay EUR 500,000 in compensation if convicted.

But if the pair is convicted, terrorist victims' groups will be 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 



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