New Basque party slams court ban

24th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

A new Basque pro-independence party on Thursday condemned a decision by Spain's Supreme Court to ban it, saying the ruling was based on "suspicion" and "prejudice".

"The arguments against our legalisation presented by the Attorney General and state prosecutors' office have ignored the legal viewpoint and are based on suspicion, prejudice and specific political views," the party, Sortu, said in a statement.

"We have met the legal requirements" so the Supreme Court decision "clearly has a political basis" and "responds to a decision and strategy defined by" Spain's ruling Socialist Party and the conservative opposition Popular Party," said the statement, released by the separatist newspaper Gara.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an application by Sortu to be legalised so that it can stand in local elections in May.

The Spanish government had asked the court to ban Sortu, arguing that it is merely an "extension" of Batasuna, the political branch of the armed Basque separatist group ETA.

Batasuna has been outlawed since 2003 because of its links to ETA, whose bloody campaign of bombings and shootings for a Basque homeland independent of Spain has been blamed for 829 deaths in more than four decades.

Sortu was launched in February by people close to Batasuna as a new party that rejects violence.

ETA on January 10 declared a "permanent and general ceasefire" to be verified by the international community.

But Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero rejected the declaration, saying he wanted nothing less than ETA's dissolution, and the authorities have vowed to hunt down ETA members.

© 2011 AFP

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