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Spain trial scheduled for Basque leaders charged for meeting with banned party

[JURIST] Officials at the Superior Court of Justice of the Basque Country [official website, in Basque] announced Monday that three of the region's political leaders, including its president, will stand trial for meeting publicly with members of the Batasuna party to negotiate a ceasefire with the illegal Basque separatist group ETA [BBC backgrounders]. Basque President Juan José Ibarretxe [official profile] and two senior members of the Basque branch of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's party met with Batasuna party members in July and April 2006 and in January 2007. They were charged [JURIST report] in connection with the meetings in October 2007. The trial is scheduled to begin January 8. AP has more.

The Batasuna party is alleged to be a front for ETA, which has been blamed for more than 800 deaths in bombings and attacks since the 1960s. Spain's Supreme Court declared Batasuna illegal [Independent report] in 2003. Last month, the court banned [JURIST report] the Basque Nationalist Action Party (ANV) from taking part in political activities because of its alleged ties to Batasuna.

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