The man who founded the armed Basque separatist group Iparretarrak has been released from prison after serving 19 years.
Phillipe Bidart, now 53, was given two life sentences for killing three French policemen. He will carry out community service under police surveillance until 2014.
Brandishing the Basque national flag, Bidart told supporters who’d come to celebrate his release that his joy was incomplete because the French government still doesn’t recognise the Basque country.
Iparretarrak, meaning ‘those from the north’, had similar goals to its more infamous relative ETA, namely independence for the Basque region. But Iparretarrak concentrated its campaign on the northern, French side of the Franco-Spanish border.
From 1973 it attacked mainly tourist or police locations, but incidents stopped following Bidart’s arrest in 1988.