Spanish PM brands disbanding of ETA as 'noise and propaganda'

03 May, 2018, 18:37 | Author: Angel Logan
  • Spain: Basque terrorist group ETA says it has disbanded

Some 300 ETA members are imprisoned in Spain, France, and Portugal and as many as 100 are still on the run, according to prisoners' families group Forum Social.

"Whatever ETA does or says, it won't find any loophole for impunity", Mr Rajoy said. "ETA can announce its disappearance but its crimes do not disappear nor do the efforts to pursue and punish them", he said in a televised speech in the northern city of Logrono.

Eta killed more than 800 people during its decades-long campaign of violence.

ETA, which was formed in 1959, waged more than four decades of attacks, killings and kidnappings in its fight for an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwest France.

In what he describes as a "statement to the Basque Country" he says the group's "journey has ended".

While an overwhelming majority of Basques welcome the end of violence, many still want independence, with separatist coalition EH Bildu the second largest grouping in the regional parliament.

Despite Franco's death in 1975, the group continued its armed campaign for Basque self-determination and the eventual independence of the region that includes territories in Spain and France.

But it took six more years for the group to give up most of its arsenal and another year for it to announce that its remaining members - numbering fewer than 50, according to Spanish officials, a lot of them living overseas - would be disbanding this week.

David Harland, the executive director of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, which has been involved in peace negotiations between ETA and the Spanish government dating back to 2004, told The Associated Press that Thursday's announcement was a "unilateral" move by the group.

Although the group's dissolution has been widely anticipated, Spanish news agency EFE reported that Spanish anti-terrorist authorities have said that they hoped for more.

But the letter said that what it called the conflict between the Basque Country and Spain and France would continue. At the same time, they said the Basque region was "before a new opportunity to finally close the conflict and build a collective future". We must not repeat mistakes; we must not let problems fester.

"There were deaths and victims on all sides", local pensioner Inaki, who declined to give his last name, said in a central square in San Sebastian.

The disbanding arrived as bittersweet news for Inaki Garcia, whose father died at ETA's hands 38 years ago.

Fresh start for Basque country?

It first announced it was disbanding in a letter to Basque organisations that was leaked on Wednesday.

The group killed 853 people in 42 years from 1968 to 2010, according to a tally by the Spanish Interior Ministry. But the end of its campaign has not erased bitterness towards militants who killed 21 people in a single attack at a Barcelona supermarket in 1987.

Civil society groups that have overseen ETA's staggered finale have scheduled an event in the southern French town of Cambo-les-Bains on Friday to mark the organization's end.

"ETA never wanted to bring about any democracy or any freedom, it wanted to end it", said Basque philosopher Fernando Savater. Hundreds of crimes contributed to ETA remain unresolved to this day.

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