Spanish Judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska ruled Jan. 12 that Basque separatist group ETA had tried three times to assassinate former Spanish prime minister José Maria Aznar in 2001. Grande-Marlaska detailed the three assassination attempts as part of a description of the alleged crimes of ETA leader Pedro Maria Olano Zabala, who was arrested in the Basque region last week. The group had allegedly tried three times to use a rocket launcher to fire a missile at Aznar’s plane in retribution for Aznar’s refusal to accept negotiations with the group, but the launcher failed three times and was finally sent to ETA operatives in France for repair. Rocket launchers belonging to ETA have reportedly been seized in France.
In September, accused ETA leader Mikel Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, in hearings before the Spanish National Court, refused to make any statement. In June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) upheld Spain’s ban of Basque political groups Batasuna and Herri Batasuna for their alleged ties to ETA. In April, alleged ETA leader Jurdan Martitegi Lizaso was arrested in France, and a Spanish judge charged him with murder for a May 2008 car bombing that killed a Spanish policeman. Last February, Spain’s Supreme Court unanimously banned the Basque separatist political groups Democracy 3 Million (D3M) and Askatasuna from participation in the coming March elections (a move harshly criticized by the UN Special Rapporteur on promotion of fundamental freedoms). (Jurist, Jan. 13)
See our last post on the Basque struggle.