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France court sentences Basque separatist leader to 20 years

A French court on Friday sentenced former Basque separatist leader Mikel Albizu Iriarte to 20 years in prison. Iriarte, also known as "Antza," was the leader of ETA [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive], an organization blamed for the deaths of 829 people. Iriarte's partner Soledad Iparragirre Genetxea, also known as "Anboto," was also sentenced to 20 years as an ETA leader. Eight other people received sentences ranging from three to 16 years. The accomplices were arrested in 2004.

Earlier this month, a French appeals court sentenced another former ETA leader, Jose Antonio Urrutikoetxea, to seven years in prison for association with a terrorist organization. In March, the Spanish National Court [official website, in Spanish] sentenced [JURIST report] Arnaldo Otegi, a former leader of ETA's political wing Batasuna [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], to two years in prison for promoting terrorism. The court held that comments made by Ortegi in a 2005 speech praised the terrorist acts committed by other ETA members. The court also disqualified Otegi from holding public office for 16 years. Otegi faces additional charges that could result in up to 30 years in prison.

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