Police 'to blame' for street violence in Basque country

2nd August 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 August 2005, VIZCAYA – Both the socialists and conservatives in Vizcaya have blamed the police for failing to crack down on street violence in the Basque country.

2 August 2005

VIZCAYA – Both the socialists and conservatives in Vizcaya have blamed the police for failing to crack down on street violence in the Basque country.

The conservative PP's spokesman Luis Almansa and PSE's Marisa Arrue agree that better police planning could have helped prevent the fear and destruction caused when gangs went on the rampage after the end of the San Ignacio festival on Sunday.

Wearing balaclavas, they threw Molotov cocktails at properties in Getxo in Vizcaya, setting one flat alight.

"The lack of planning by the Basque police opened up a way to the terrorist band which did what it wanted, sowing panic and fear among the residents," said Almansa.

Arrue criticised the way radical groups had taken over the local festival organisation, pointing out that the programme included pictures of ETA prisoners, with messages of support.

"ETA's network profited from these celebrations because they were allowed to organise them with public money," she said.

"It isn't possible to send police units to every street, but they should be in the danger zones," insisted Arrue, adding that street violence in other villages and towns made the events of Getxo predictable.

However, the nationalist PNV mayor Iñaki Zarraoa defended the police's handling of the latest violence, stating officers were "as fast as the saboteurs".

Residents in the troubled area, though, told the agency EFE it took police one hour and 20 minutes to arrive at the scene, while the fire brigade arrived after an hour. "We felt abandoned," said one.

The largest police union, the Unified Police Union, has for its part blamed the rise in ETA-linked street violence to the judgment of Santiago Pedraz on Haika, Segi and Jarrai on 20 June. The union argues his conclusion that street violence – named in the Basque country 'kale borroka' - is not terrorist, since "it never involves the use of arms", has meant those ETA-linked troublemakers on the streets have "lost all fear".

Yesterday, Spain's interior minister Jose Antonio Alonso called on the police to fight against "this type of terrorism".

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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