Palacio: we were right to tellworld ETA was behind bombs
29 July 2004, MADRID - Spain's former foreign minister insisted Thursday she had been right to urge the country's ambassadors to blame the Basque separatist movement ETA in the wake of the deadly March 11 train bombings.
29 July 2004
MADRID - Spain's former foreign minister insisted Thursday she had been right to urge the country's ambassadors to blame the Basque separatist movement ETA in the wake of the deadly March 11 train bombings.
Ana Palacio told a parliamentary commission that she had wanted to counter the Basque movement's denial of responsibility and its own suggestion - ultimately accurate - that the "Arab resistance" was behind the attacks.
She told the inquiry in a marathon session that comments by Arnaldo Otegi, head of ETA's banned political arm Batasuna, "were beginning to find a broad international echo."
The telegram to Spanish ambassadors abroad urging them to point the finger at ETA "was designed to counter what Otegi was saying," Palacio added.
Leftist parties, including the Socialists who won general elections three days after the attacks galvanised voters, have accused the conservative former government of misleading the public by insisting ETA was to blame.
In fact, evidence pointing to Islamic extremists started to emerge within hours of the bombings, Spain's worst-ever terror attack which left 191 people dead and injured about 1,900.
A Spanish-inspired UN vote only hours after the attack condemning ETA as a "terrorist" organisation was also necessary, Palacio said, because the world body had until then always referred to it as a "separatist" group.
Two weeks later, Spain apologised to the United Nations for mentioning ETA in the resolution.
Palacio's statements to the inquiry following a day of questioning of the former interior minister, Angel Acebes, who insisted the then-government had not lied nor tried to manipulate public perception of who was to blame.
The parliamentary commission of inquiry is trying to determine whether the former government of Jose Maria Aznar had good reason to point the finger at ETA.
The idea that Islamic extremists had attacked Spain was dangerous for his administration as he supported the US-led invasion of Iraq and sent troops to aid the subsequent occupation.
Many Spaniards construed the Islamist connection as an act of revenge.
The Socialist government has since pulled the troops out.
The inquiry was due later Thursday to hear current Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso, then adjourn until September.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news