Basque activists arrested in the so-called “18/98” case began appearing before a judge in Bilbao Dec. 4, following a sweep that prompted angry protests over the weekend. Spain’s High Court issued 46 arrest warrants for members of the Basque civil groups Ekin, Orain, Xaki and Fundación Joxemi Zumalabe, after a finding by magistrate Baltasar Garzón that they are fronts for the armed organization ETA. (EiTB24, Spain, Dec. 4) Thousands marched against the arrests in Bilbao Dec. 1, in a rally led by leaders of outlawed organizations, including the Batasuna party. (EiTB24, Dec. 2)
The 46 are among 56 already charged with ETA collaboration in November 2005, who were free on bail. The National Court now says the defendants will be sentenced to a collective 527 years in prison The case is named for Garzón’s judicial order of 1998 finding the organizations were ETA fronts. (Irish Solidarity Committees, Dec. 1) The relevant judicial orders are online at Euskal Herria Watch.
Earlier this year, Basque Country ecology activist Julio Villanueva was arrested in a ten-year-old charge of sabotage at a dam construction site. Villanueva was allegedly one of eight activists who briefly halted construction of the Itoiz dam by cutting the cables on a concrete transporter. The eight members of the group Solidarios con Itoiz were sentenced to four years and 10 months in prison. Two served their sentences, while the rest remained in clandestinity. On Aug. 18, some 100 people gathered outside Pamplona-Iruñea prison to protest the imprisonment of Villanueva. (EuskalInfo, Sept. 11)