Spain judge charges former Basque separatist leaders with crimes against humanity
Spain judge charges former Basque separatist leaders with crimes against humanity

[JURIST] Judge Juan Pablo Gonzalez of Spain’s National Court [CJA backgrounder] charged five suspected leaders of the Basque separatist movement Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) [BBC backgrounder] Tuesday with crimes against humanity for their participation in the 2004 attacks that left 12 people dead. Specifically, the group is alleged to have participated in kidnapping and murder, including the bombing of a parking lot filled with cars in Madrid’s airport in 2006 where two Ecuadorian men were the casualties. The judge noted that the investigation’s attention was towards tracking down the suspected leaders of the ETA during the mid-2000s era because of their knowledge and planning of the attacks. The suspects [El País report, in Spanish] who are being held in jail in France include former ETA military heads Gairkoitz Aspiazu Rubina, Angel Iriondo Yarza, Aitor Elizaran Aguilar, and Mikel Carrera Sarobe. Jose Antonio Urrtikoetxea, a longtime leader of the ETA who had been on the run since escaping jail, was also one of the charged suspects. The ETA has been accused of 829 deaths during their four-decade movement for independence from the Basque region, which lies along the French and Spanish border.

In April a UK judge ruled that [JURIST report] a convicted member of the ETA, Antonio Troitino, can be extradited to Spain. Also in April the Spanish government requested [JURIST report] that the US use diplomatic discussions with Cuba regarding the country’s removal from the State Sponsors of Terrorism blacklist to seek the extradition of two ETA members residing in Cuba. In January Spain’s Interior Ministry [official website, in Spanish] announced the arrest [JURIST report] of 16 individuals for alleged connections with ETA. Twelve of the individuals arrested were lawyers, while the other four were treasurers for a group that represents ETA prisoners. In November 2013 the Spanish National Court ordered the release of 13 members of ETA in compliance with a European Court of Human Rights ruling [judgment] made the month before. The ECHR decision overturned the “Parot Doctrine” [LOC backgrounder] which had effectively allowed for life imprisonment despite the 30-year prison limit set by Spain’s 1973 Penal Code.