A Spanish court on Friday sentenced a former military leader of the Basque separatist group ETA [BBC profile], Francisco Javier Garcia Gatzelu, alias Txapote, to 105 years in prison for ordering the murder of Socialist politician Fernando Buesa and his bodyguard Jorge Diez in 2000. The two men were killed in an explosion [El Pais report, in Spanish] in the town of Vitoria. The National Court, the highest judicial authority to hear terrorism cases, convicted Txapote [El Pais report, in Spanish] of the two murders and two counts of injury because two other people were also hurt in the attack. Txapote was first arrested in 2001 and has already been sentenced [AFP report] to imprisonment in Spain prior to his latest conviction. In 2006, he was convicted and sentenced to multiple years in prison, including 50 years imprisonment for kidnapping and murder of a town counselor, and another 82 years for killing a Basque socialist leader and 18 years for another attacked that injured no one. Spain has sentenced Txapote to a total of 308 year in prison and six murders, including the National court's latest opinion.
Last month, the ETA announced a cessation of all armed activities, but the Spanish government continues to actively pursue charges against ETA leaders. In September, the Spanish National Court sentenced a former Basque separatist to 10 years in prison [JURIST report] for terrorism and trying to resurrect a banned political wing of ETA. In March 2010, the court sentenced a former Basque separatist party leader to two years in prison for promoting terrorism [JURIST report]. Earlier that week, the court accused the Venezuelan government [JURIST report] of aiding ETA in a plot to assassinate members of the Colombian government in Spain. In February 2010, the Interior Ministry of Spain said that it took into custody [JURIST report] the suspected ETA leader, along with two other people who are believed to be senior members of the group. Spanish Judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska ruled [JURIST report] a month earlier 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.