11 February 2008
MADRID – Spanish police Monday detained 14 members of the executive committee of the banned Basque separatist party Batasuna, regarded as the political wing of the militant separatist group ETA, judicial sources said.
Thirteen people were detained in various localities of the Basque region, and one in the southern city of Cordoba.
Police searched 19 addresses including the headquarters of Basque Nationalist Action (ANV) and The Communist Party of Basque Lands (EHAK-PCTV), which the National Court has suspended as successors of Batasuna.
The operation involving about 400 police sought to extinguish all of Batasuna’s activities after more than 20 of its leaders and leading members were arrested in October.
Batasuna’s top leader Arnaldo Otegi was already in prison at the time.
Batasuna had continued to maintain some political activity, such as giving press conferences, despite having been outlawed in 2003.
The people detained on Monday included lesser known or potential leaders of the party.
Three of the detainees, Karmelo Landa, Mikel Etxaburu and Karmele Aierbe, had on Sunday given a press conference at which they called for a general strike to protest Spanish "judicial, political and police repression" against the Basque independence movement.
The arrests came amidst moves by the judiciary to bar the ANV and EHAK-PCTV from contesting the 9 March legislative elections.
National Court judge Baltasar Garzon, who ordered Monday’s arrests, has suspended the activities of the two parties. The Supreme Court prohibited ANV from participating in the elections and blocked subsidies to both parties.
On Sunday, thousands of separatists demonstrated against the suspension, following street violence and riots on Saturday.
Acts of sabotage continued late Sunday, with suspected ETA supporters setting fire to an electricity substation in Lezo and a transformer in Renteria. The fires caused a power cut which lasted several hours.
ETA has killed more than 800 people in its campaign of four decades for a sovereign Basque state comprising parts of what are now northern Spain and southern France.
[Copyright dpa 2008]
Subject: Spanish news