Fury as judges say Otegi should face terror charges

23rd March 2007, Comments 0 comments

23 March 2007, MADRID - A court said on Friday there was enough evidence to convict the leader of ETA's political arm of terrorism charges but was forced to acquit him because the prosecutor dropped the charges.

23 March 2007

MADRID - A court said on Friday there was enough evidence to convict the leader of ETA's political arm of terrorism charges but was forced to acquit him because the prosecutor dropped the charges.

The moved has caused a fierce political row, with conservative oppositon politicians calling for the prosecutor's resignation.

The opposition Popular Party said the socialist government had once again given in to ETA.

Arnaldo Otegi, leader of the banned Batasuna party, was cleared of charges of praising terrorism on Wednesday.

The case related to remarks he made at the funeral of Olaya Castresana, a suspected ETA member who died in 2001 when explosives she was preparing blew up.

During the funeral, Otegi carried her coffin and described fallen ETA members as patriots.

Under questioning from prosecutor Fernando Burgos, Otegi denied having praised ETA.

He said that at Castresana's funeral he simply asserted the right of Basques to self-determination and demanded a solution to the Basque conflict.

Burgos concluded Otegi had not in fact praised terrorism but rather expressed an opinion — "as despicable as it might seem" — and he withdrew the charges.

But the three-judge panel that presided over the case said in statement on Friday that there was "direct, objective and sufficient evidence to nullify the presumption of innocence" in the case of Otegi and that he could have been convicted.

The judges said that at the funeral, Otegi made remarks such as "Our warmest applause to all the Basque soldiers who have fallen in this long fight for self-determination," and that this amounts to praising terrorism.

The case follows the controversial decision to release convicted ETA killer from hospital where he had been staging a hunger strike.

Inaki de Juana Chaos was released to serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest. He has to serve about a year for writing two articles which made terrorist threats.

Originally, De Juana Chaos was jailed for 12 years, but this was reduced to three.

He is Spain's most notorious killer, and served 18 years for the murder of 25 people in terrorist attacks.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

 

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