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Spain Basque leaders charged for meeting with ETA-linked party

[JURIST] Three political leaders in Spain's Basque region, including the president of the region, were ordered to stand trial [PDF text] Tuesday for meeting publicly with members of the Batasuna party [BBC profile] to negotiate an ETA [BBC backgrounder] ceasefire. The Batasuna party is alleged to be a front for the illegal Basque separatist militant group ETA, which has been blamed for more than 800 deaths in bombings and attacks since the 1960s. The country's Supreme Court declared the Batasuna party illegal in 2003.

Basque President Juan Jose Ibarretxe [official profile] and two senior members of the Basque branch of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's party met publicly with Batasuna party members in July and April 2006 as well as in January 2007. Earlier this month, 17 Batasuna party leaders were jailed [JURIST report] on orders of Spanish anti-terror judge Baltasar Garzon. The specific reason for the arrests was not made public. AP has more. El Mundo has local coverage, in Spanish.

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