Spanish court bans Basque march after ETA ceasefire
A Spanish court Thursday banned a march planned for the weekend by a movement close to Batasuna, ETA's banned political wing, four days after the Basque separatist movement declared a ceasefire.
The National Court, Spain's highest criminal court, said the goal of the march planned for Saturday in the Basque city of Bilbao by the group Adierazi EH was to "support the strategy and justify the actions of the terrorist group ETA."
Public prosecutors had asked the court on Wednesday to prevent the march from going ahead, arguing that Adierazi EH was "nothing other than the heir of Batasuna and it follows the guidelines of the terrorist group ETA".
Adierazi EH, which means "express yourself Basque Country" in the Basque language, said it called the protest march to "defend civil and political rights" in the Basque region.
Spain's Supreme Court banned Batasuna in 2003 on the grounds it is part of ETA, which is blamed for the deaths of 829 people in its 42-year campaign of bombings and shootings for an independent Basque homeland.
In a video declaration, ETA on Sunday announced it had decided several months ago to halt "armed offensive actions" but it did not say if the ceasefire was permanent or temporary.
Batasuna had been calling on ETA to agree to a "permanent ceasefire under international verification".
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero Tuesday called on ETA to "give up weapons forever" in his first public reaction to the ceasefire announcement while Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba has said the government will not "change a dot" of its hardline policy against the outfit.
© 2010 AFP