Supreme Court bans ETA-linked party

17th September 2008, Comments 0 comments

Spain will dissolve the Basque Nationalist Action party and seize its assets.

17 September 2008

MADRID -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday banned a Basque political party linked to the ETA terrorist group, ordering its total dissolution and the seizure of its assets.

Councillors and mayors in the Basque Nationalist Action party (ANV) are now expected to step down in towns and villages across the Basque Country and neighbouring Navarre, where the radical party won more than 400 seats in local elections last year.

The ruling follows a decision earlier in 2008 by High Court Judge Baltasar Garzón that prevented ANV members from competing in Spain's general elections in March, but that stopped short of an outright ban on the party.

"This is a positive move... and represents one more step in the fight against terrorism", José Blanco, the deputy secretary general of Spain's governing Socialist Party, said.

The Supreme Court said it will make public the full version of its ruling over the coming days, although the court's chief justice, Francisco Hernando, told reporters yesterday that the decision to ban ANV had been taken unanimously on the basis of evidence that the party is a continuation of ETA's outlawed political wing Batasuna.

Originally founded in the 1930s, ANV had remained a minor party until the May 2007 local elections, when its members were elected mayors of 42 Basque towns and won a further 400 seats across the region and Navarre, many in areas where support for Batasuna had traditionally been strong.

Hernando said the Supreme Court will today begin deliberations on whether to ban another radical party, the Communist Party of the Basque Lands (PCTV-EHAK), with a ruling expected before the end of the week. PCTV-EHAK, which was also suspended by Garzón earlier in 2008, holds nine seats in the Basque Parliament, but has come under the same scrutiny as ANV because of its connections with members of Batasuna and ETA.

Basque nationalists have fiercely criticised the cases against ANV and PCTV-EHAK, arguing that prosecutors are abusing the Political Parties Law, under which Batasuna was banned in 2003. "They are using the Political Parties Law spuriously... this is not going to bring peace", Miren Azkarate, the Basque government's spokeswoman, said.

[El Pais / A. E. / Expatica]

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