Freed ETA hit man could face new charges

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A Spanish judge suspects De Juana may have written a statement glorifying terrorism which was read on his homecoming party on Saturday.

5 August 2008

MADRID - Ignacio De Juana Chaos, an infamous ETA hit man who walked free from prison at the weekend, is again under investigation by a Spanish judge over suspicions that he may have made statements glorifying terrorism within hours of his release.

High Court Judge Rafael Ruz has ordered police to gather evidence on a homecoming party in San Sebastián on Saturday where a letter supposedly written by De Juana was read out by an ETA sympathiser.

In the note, De Juana, who eventually declined to attend the event, reportedly described late ETA leader Txomin Iturbe as "a great man" and made use of a Basque expression meaning to kick the ball forward. The phrase has been interpreted as calling for a continuation of ETA's armed campaign.

Under Spanish law, glorifying terrorism is a crime punishable with between one and two years in prison.

De Juana walked free from prison on Saturday after serving 21 years for 25 murders committed during the 1980s and for threatening prison officials.

His release has infuriated victims of ETA's bloody campaign, several of whom called Monday for Judge Ruz to act sternly against De Juana.

The judge has ordered police to determine whether De Juana did in fact write the letter, as well as to obtain the identity of the organisers of the homecoming event, including that of the woman who read out the note in question.

He also wants police to report on any signs, banners or flags that were present at the event, as well as on anything said by any of the people in attendance. The gathering was flanked by two banners in Basque stating "Welcome Ignacio" and "The Basque Country needs freedom".

In the letter, De Juana attacked the Spanish state's policies in the Basque Country and said that the government "will never be able to imprison, prohibit or torture our ideas and feelings".

[El Pais / A. Eatwell / Expatica]

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