Government resists clamour to outlaw Basque radicals

4th December 2007, Comments 0 comments

4 December 2007, MADRID - The government on Monday said it would not rush to outlaw a radical political party despite mounting demands from opposition politicians and victims of terrorism to strip Basque Nationalist Action (ANV) of its rights following the murder of a Spanish police officer in France on Saturday blamed on Basque terrorist group ETA.

4 December 2007

MADRID - The government on Monday said it would not rush to outlaw a radical political party despite mounting demands from opposition politicians and victims of terrorism to strip Basque Nationalist Action (ANV) of its rights following the murder of a Spanish police officer in France on Saturday blamed on Basque terrorist group ETA.

The ANV, which won support from Basque nationalist voters in local elections in May after it was endorsed by ETA's outlawed political wing Batasuna, has so far refused to condemn Saturday's attack in Capbreton, France. Undercover Civil Guard officer Raúl Centeno, 24, died in the shooting, while his partner, Fernando Trapero, 23, remains in a coma. They had been investigating ETA's activities in France in collaboration with French police.

The government acknowledged that the ANV's failure to condemn the attack - the first killing by ETA in almost a year - "puts it in a worse situation today than it was yesterday." But it claimed that as yet there is insufficient evidence to make a case for outlawing the party.

"It's an issue that is too important to rush into," Justice Minister Mariano Fernández Bermejo declared yesterday. "We have suspicions, but as soon as there is sufficient evidence - and not one moment before - we will seek the illegalisation of ANV."

Police are thought to be compiling evidence against the Basque party, possibly with a view to seeking a court order to suspend the organisation in the run-up to the general election next March. That could pre-empt the illegalisation of the group.

In the wake of Saturday's attack, Spain's main opposition Popular Party and the country's largest association of victims of terrorism, the AVT, have both intensified their demands for ANV to be outlawed and heightened their criticism of the Socialist government's counterterrorism policies. "There is more than enough evidence to outlaw the AVT," PP Secretary General Ángel Acebes declared. During a march in Madrid yesterday, a government representative, Pedro Zerolo, was insulted and Socialists in general were labelled "terrorists" by far-right protesters.

[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ A. EATWELL 2007]

Subject: Spanish news

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