Accused Basque separatist leader refuses to make statements before Spain court News
Accused Basque separatist leader refuses to make statements before Spain court

[JURIST] The accused leader of the military arm of Basque separatist group ETA [JURIST news archive] refused to make a statement at two hearings in the Spanish National Courts on Tuesday. Mikel Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina [BBC profile] faces a total of 21 charges for attacks and attempted attacks that took place between 2000 and 2008, but the proceedings [El Mundo report, in Spanish] Tuesday were specifically for five separate counts holding him responsible for five incidents in January and February of 2002. Aspiazu was captured [JURIST report] in France in November and was extradited to Spain on Monday. Spain is due to return him to French authorities by September 26 for further proceedings in the French legal system. The terms of the temporary extradition provided that Aspiazu would be entitled to the same legal rights as in France. The extradition is the first time France has agreed to transfer a suspect before investigation into charges against him has been completed.

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. In January, a Spanish court dismissed [JURIST report] the case against Basque Regional Prime Minister Juan Jose Ibarretxe. He and the two leaders of the Basque socialist party were charged [JURIST report] with illegally communicating with the banned. In September, the court banned [JURIST report] the Basque Nationalist Action Party (ANV) from taking part in political activities because of its alleged ties to Batasuna.