Judge accuses police of covering up ETA evidence

29th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

29 November 2006, MADRID — A judge claims police covered up evidence of terrorist activity in the Basque Country, it was reported on Wednesday.

29 November 2006

MADRID — A judge claims police covered up evidence of terrorist activity in the Basque Country, it was reported on Wednesday.

The judge accused Basque police to hold back essential information about street disturbances by supporters of ETA.

The claim, widely reported in the Spanish press, comes after what some see as a contest between the ruling Socialists and opposition conservatives for the distinction of having done the least to promote negotiations with Basque separatists.

The Popular Party (PP) has spent months sniping at Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero for his "too soft" approach to ETA, which has killed more than 850 people since 1968 in its campaign to carve out an independent Basque state from parts of northern Spain and southwestern France.

On Monday, the Socialists shot back, releasing a video highlighting "concessions" made by former PP premier Jose Maria Aznar during his talks with the Basque radicals in the late 1990s.

The tape recalls that during the more than 400 days that truce lasted, Aznar's government met with ETA and its political wing, Herri Batasuna, moved more than 120 Basque prisoners to jails closer to their homes, freed dozens of convicted terrorists and permitted the return to Spain of 300 members of the separatist group.

The parliamentary spokesman for the PP, Eduardo Zaplana, warned the Socialists Tuesday that the release of the video "is dynamiting the few bridges" that might still exist in the anti-terrorist struggle.

Especially, he said, when just a few days earlier some 200,000 people turned out in Madrid for a demonstration to ask the government not to negotiate with ETA.

The Zapatero government is also getting criticism from Basque politicians, including not only ETA's outlawed political arm - now known simply as Batasuna - but also the moderate centre-right PNV, which has controlled the Basque regional administration for two decades.

In the view of the Basques, a competition to prove which of the two dominant parties has done least to promote a solution does not augur well for the peace process.

Batasuna's Arnaldo Otegi demanded that the government explain "how it intends to build a peace process by doing less than the PP did" and he added that he felt the attitude of the Socialists should be included among the "key" reasons why that process is currently blocked.

Meanwhile, regional Basque government spokesman Miren Azkarate said that "behind this attitude of the PSOE (Socialists) there is a kind of desire to show that they are doing less than the PP did in its day, when precisely what everyone is saying is that for the process to move forward we need courage and to proceed in a decisive manner and never do less, but rather do more".

The dialogue process with ETA to end the group's terrorist activities has entered a very complicated phase in recent weeks, after an ETA squad robbed hundreds of handguns and a large amount of ammunition from a warehouse in France and during a period when episodes of street violence in the Basque Country have continued and PP leader Mariano Rajoy is calling upon Zapatero to end the process.

ETA, which is on both the European Union and U.S. lists of terrorist organizations, announced a "permanent" cease-fire in late March, some three years after its last deadly attack and nearly four decades after launching its armed struggle during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

While the vast majority of Basques oppose ETA violence, nationalist parties, ranging from the moderate PNV to Communists, consistently garner the most votes in regional elections.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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