Judges in Spain’s Basque region have thrown out a lawsuit against the regional premier Juan Jose Ibarretxe. He had appeared in court on Thursday accused of holding illegal talks with the banned separatist party Batasuna in 2006. In the dock with Ibarretxe were two regional Socialist leaders and five Batasuna members. Lawsuits against them have also been thrown out.
Considered to be the political wing of the ETA terrorist group, Batasuna was outlawed in 2003. The court case arose from complaints from groups that support ETA victims, and came just before regional elections in March. A similar lawsuit against the central government was rejected earlier by the Supreme Court. The accused argued they were involved in legitimate political attempts to assess whether peace talks could be established between Madrid and ETA. The Socialist government had decided to explore that possibility at the time, angering the conservative opposition. But the process was eventually called off when ETA bombed Madrid’s main airport in 2006, killing two people.