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Spain judge finds ETA attempted to kill former prime minister

[JURIST] Spanish Judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska ruled on Tuesday that Basque separatist group ETA [JURIST news archive] had tried three times to assassinate former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar in 2001 but had failed. Grande-Marlaska detailed the three assassination attempts [El Pais report, in Spanish] as part of a description of the alleged crimes of ETA leader Pedro Maria Olano Zabala, who was arrested in the Basque region last Thursday. The group had allegedly tried three times to use a rocket launcher to fire a missile at Aznar's plane in retribution for Aznar's refusal to accept a compromise with the group [ABC report, in Spanish], but the launcher failed three times and was finally sent to ETA operatives in France for repair [Barcelona Reporter report]. Rocket launchers belonging to ETA have been seized in France.

In September, accused ETA leader Mikel Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina refused to make any statement [JURIST report] during hearings before the Spanish National Court. In June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] upheld [JURIST report] Spain's ban of Basque political groups Batasuna [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and Herri Batasuna for their alleged ties to ETA. In April, alleged ETA leader Jurdan Martitegi Lizaso [El Pais backgrounder, in Spanish] was arrested in France, and a Spanish judge charged [JURIST reports] him with murder for a May 2008 car bombing that killed a Spanish policeman. In February, Spain's Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] unanimously banned [JURIST report] the Basque separatist political groups Democracy 3 Million (D3M) and Askatasuna [orders, PDF; in Spanish] from participation in the coming March elections.

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