Radical Basque nationalists have called for protests following the arrest of almost all the suspected leaders of a banned party with links to ETA. Police detained 23 people gathered for an illegal meeting on Thursday in the Basque town of Segura. They are believed to belong to the outlawed nationalist party Batasuna.
The operation is part of a crackdown by police against Basque radicals in recent months including the jailing of former Batasuna leader Arnaldo Otegi. Socialist parliament speaker Diego Lopez Garrido said: “The guilty must pay. In our country, the apology of violence is incompatible with politics.”
Police searches continued on Friday at locations throughout the Basque country. The operation has been strongly criticised by Basque nationalists, including the region’s moderate Basque Nationalist Party. Spokesman Joseba Azkarraga said: “It’s clear this is a political decision. Once again, the anti-terrorism tribunal is being abused for other interests incompatible with an independent judicial body.”
Pernando Barrena, a top nationalist radical who was not arrested as he didn’t attend the Segura meeting, also denounced the crackdown: “The arrest of 23 left-wing nationalists is an act of punishment and revenge on the part of the government,” he said.
The police operation against Basque radicals has already sparked protests throughout the region. More are expected following the latest raids.