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Judge opens door for ban of Basque radical parties

23 January 2008

MADRID – High Court Judge Baltasar Garzón on Tuesday moved to ban two radical Basque parties from fielding candidates in the general election on 9 March, turning the results of a police investigation over to public prosecutors to seek a suspension of their political activities.

In a decision that opens the door to the eventual outlawing of Basque Nationalist Action (ANV) and the Communist Party of the Basque Lands (PCTV-EHAK) for their alleged links to terrorist group ETA, Garzón indicated that sufficient evidence has been gathered together to suspend them under the 2002 Political Parties Law. The same legislation was used to suspend and outlaw ETA’s political wing Batasuna in 2003.

"Information on the financial, political and organisational structure [of the two parties] leads to the conclusion that Batasuna has been instrumental in allowing PCTV and ANV to continue functioning at the service of the Basque liberation movement constituted by ETA," Garzón wrote.

PCTV-EHAK won seats in the Basque Parliament in regional elections in April 2005, while ANV, a party founded in the 1930s, picked up more than 400 councillors in Basque and Navarran municipalities, including several mayors, in the 2007 local elections. On Monday, ahead of the presentation of the police report to Garzón, Attorney General Candido Conde-Pumpido expressed confidence that the parties will be "suspended before the election." In addition, the government may start the process of seeking their illegalisation as early as this Friday.

[Copyright EL PAÍS / JOSÉ YOLDI 2008]

Subject: Spanish news