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Spain police on trial for alleged torture of ETA members

A group of Spanish police officers went on trial Tuesday for the alleged torture of two ETA activists [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] in Basque. The alleged victims, Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola, were convicted and sentenced to 1,040 years in prison [JURIST report] after an airport bombing in Madrid that killed two people. They claim that the police mistreated them physically and psychologically [El Pais report, in Spanish]. The Guardia Civil police [official website, in Spanish] maintain that Portu and Sarasola were trying to escape and that their limited use of force was necessary [El Pais report, in Spanish]. Prosecutors seek two to three years in prison for the accused officers.

Spain and France continue to combat active Basque separatists, who fight for full nationhood for the Basque region of Spain and France. The area is considered an autonomous region of both nations. France has arrested and filed terrorism charges against two separate Basque separatists leaders in 2010, while Spain has dealt with ETA plots to kill their prime minister and has accused Venezuala [JURIST reports] of intervening on behalf of the ETA. The European Court of Human Rights has upheld Spain's ban of separatist parties [JURIST report].

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