Spanish top judge charges 13 with being ETA members
Judge Baltasar Garzon charged 13 members of two new parties who are planning to stand in upcoming regional elections for acting under orders of ETA.MADRID – A top Spanish anti-terrorism judge on Tuesday charged 13 Basque separatists who planned to stand in regional elections on 1 March with being members of the outlawed armed group ETA.
Judge Baltasar Garzon said the 13 members of two new parties which are fielding candidates in the polls, Askatasuna and 3DM, were acting under the orders of ETA and its banned political wing Batasuna.
Garzon, who is well-known in Spain for his pursuit of outlawed Basque separatists, said he will question the 13 at the National Audience, the country's top criminal court, on Friday.
He has said the two new parties are simply fronts for Batasuna, which was outlawed by Spain's Supreme Court in 2003 for its ties to ETA.
Polls show the moderately nationalist Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), which has ruled the Basque region since 1980, largely in coalition with other parties, is at risk of losing power to the Socialists in the upcoming polls.
In national elections last March, two other Basque radical parties were prevented from running for the same reason.
The last major crackdown on Batasuna was in October 2007 when 20 of its alleged leaders were arrested.
ETA, which is on the European Union's list of banned terrorist groups, has been blamed for the deaths of 825 people in a 40-year campaign for an independent Basque homeland straddling northern Spain and southwestern France.
[AFP / Expatica]