High court prevents assembly by banned party

18th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

18 January 2006, MADRID — A Spanish high court ruled that a radical Basque nationalist party outlawed for its links to the ETA terrorist group may not hold a political congress planned for Saturday.

18 January 2006

MADRID — A Spanish high court ruled that a radical Basque nationalist party outlawed for its links to the ETA terrorist group may not hold a political congress planned for Saturday.

Judge Fernando Grande Marlaska also ordered a halt to activity by Batasuna or any successor organisation. His ruling orders the closure of offices and the shutdown of the group's website.

Batasuna, which was barred from public life by Spain's supreme court in March 2003 on the grounds that the party functioned as the political arm of ETA, was subsequently added to the US and European Union lists of international terrorist organisations.

The group had scheduled a political congress for Saturday in the Basque town of Baracaldo, but government prosecutors and the Association of Victims of Terrorism asked the National Court for an injunction against the event.

Judge Grande Marlaska instructed the Civil Guard, Spain's militarized national police force, to take all necessary steps to prevent the gathering from being held.

Batasuna, whose name means "unity" in the Basque language, was formed in 1978 by left-wing separatists to promote the creation of an independent Basque state comprising parts of northern Spain and southwestern France.

ETA, which emerged in the late 1960s when Spain was still ruled by dictator Francisco Franco, has killed more than 800 people in its battle for Basque nationhood.

Batasuna was banned under a law that made it possible to revoke the registration of a political party deemed to advocate or condone terrorism.

In this case, Batasuna was banned for failing to condemn terrorist acts by ETA.

The authorities' campaign against Batasuna - including criminal prosecutions of individual members - has not succeeded in wiping the group off the political map, but it has sharply limited its activities.

Batasuna was unable to present candidates for last year's Basque regional elections, though its surrogate, the Communist Party of the Basque Lands, did win nine of the 75 seats in the local legislature.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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