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Spain court sentences former Basque separatist leader for terrorism

The Spanish National Court on Thursday sentenced [text, PDF, in Spanish] a former Basque separatist to 10 years in prison for terrorism and trying to resurrect a banned political wing of Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The court found [El Pais report, in Spanish] that Arnaldo Otegi acted on orders from ETA to create an organization that would replace Batasuna [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and serve as a political tool for ETA [AP report]. Otegi, who continues to be vocal about his ETA support, served 15 months in prison prior to his recent conviction for an ETA-related offense.

The Spanish government continues to actively pursue charges against ETA. In March 2010, the court sentenced a former Basque separatist party leader to two years in prison for promoting terrorism [JURIST report]. Earlier in the month, the court accused [JURIST report] the Venezuelan government of aiding ETA in a plot to assassinate members of the Colombian government in Spain. In February, the Interior Ministry of Spain said [JURIST report] that it took into custody the suspected ETA leader, along with two other people who are believed to be senior members of the group. In January, Spanish Judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska ruled [JURIST report] that ETA had tried three times to assassinate former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar in 2001 but had failed. In June 2009, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) upheld [JURIST report] Spain's ban of Basque political groups Batasuna and Herri Batasuna for their alleged ties to ETA.

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