Batasuna leader acquitted of praising terrorism

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Batasuna leader acquitted of praising terrorism

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Prosecutors in Spain have dropped a charge of glorying terrorism levelled against the leader of the banned Basque nationalist party Batasuna.

The charge referred back to 2001 when Arnaldo Otegi allegedly described an ETA member who had accidently blown herself up as a “heroine”.

The 48-year old denied the charges, claiming he had spoken in a general sense about Basque self-rule.

Prosecutors said that, based on the evidence presented, a conviction was unlikely, allowing Otegi to walk free.

He had been due in court in Madrid on Wednesday morning but failed to appear, claiming the roads were blocked by heavy snow.

The court promptly ordered Otegi’s arrest. Armed police and dog handlers arrived to escort him to the rescheduled hearing more than 430 kilometres away.

Batasuna has been outlawed due to its links with the terrorist group ETA. Otegi has previously spent time in jail for his one time membership of the group.

The government broke off peace talks with ETA after it claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack which killed two people at Madrid airport last december.