"Guts and heart" of ETA jailed in mass trial
Forty-seven collaborators given sentences totalling 500 years.
20 December 2007
MADRID - The High Court on Wednesday sentenced 47 ETA collaborators to sentences totalling 500 years in prison in a ruling that confirms the role of several outlawed Basque organisations in providing political, social and media support to the terrorist group.
The sentences were read out on Wednesday morning by court president Ángela Murillo, the head judge in Spain's biggest trial linked to ETA, which took place between November 2006 and March of this year. Out of 52 suspects, 47 were given guilty verdicts, including Xabier Alegría, the former head of political group KAS-Ekin, who was sentenced to 18 years, and Txema Matanzas, a lawyer who represented members of groups linked to ETA, who received a 14-year sentence.
Murillo said that the trial had proven that organisations such as KAS-Ekin and Xaki, an international support group, formed the "guts and heart" of ETA, while other groups such as the Joxemi Zumalabe Foundation, which sought to stir civil disobedience, provided crucial support to the terrorists. The trial was the result of a lengthy investigation initiated by High Court investigating magistrate Baltasar Garzón between 1998 and 2002 that led to the aforementioned and other organisations being outlawed.
Murillo expelled the defendants from the court before reading the sentences after 24 of them held in a glass-fronted room started singing the Hymn of the Basque Soldier, an ETA anthem. Three of the defendants in the case - Miguel Ángel Zuluaga, Inmaculada Berriozabal and Nekane Txapartegi - were sentenced in absentia after failing to appear in court. Most of the other defendants had been rounded up in November by police in order to prevent them from fleeing the country before the sentences were made public.
[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ A. EATWELL 2007]
Subject: Spanish news