A police operation is continuing today with searches at various locations in Spain’s Basque country following the arrest of more than 20 senior figures of the banned political party Batasuna. They are accused of holding an clandestine meeting last night to organise the handover of power from the old guard to new leaders.
The arrests were ordered by anti-terrorism judge Baltazar Garzon who had Batasuna outlawed five years ago amid accusations it was the political front for the armed separatist group ETA. It is the latest in four months of operations against Basque radicals.
Enrique Lopez of the General Council of Judicial Power, Spain’s judicial watchdog, says: “We’re not prosecuting Batasuna for its ideas, nor for its words, but for its actions. The people of Batasuna support ETA, belong to ETA, and have been the instrument of ETA for many years.”
The crackdown follows the jailing four months ago of former Batasuna leader Arnaldo Otegi for apology of terrorism. The man believed to be the group’s new spokesman is among those arrested. The suspects face charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation. The crackdown has led to several clashes between police and radical militants. More demonstrations have been called for across the Spanish Basque country this evening.