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Basque separatist trial opens in Madrid

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Basque separatist trial opens in Madrid


Basque separatist Arnaldo Otegi appeared in court in Madrid on Thursday on a new charge of “inciting terrorism,” just weeks after ETA declared a permanent ceasefire.

The former leader of the banned Basque political party Batasuna, the political wing of ETA, is in court over comments made during a rally in 2004.

Otegi told the court that the movement wanted an end to the violence.

“I was expected to explain the policies of the separatist left to solve the political problems of the Basque country in peaceful and democratic terms,” he told judges.

He risks a further 18 months in jail if convicted on the new charge.

Otegi’s trial comes after ETA declared a unilateral ceasefire in September.

He is already serving a two-year jail term for similar remarks made in 2005.

The Spanish government, however, is treating the ETA ceasefire with suspicion.

ETA declared a “permanent ceasefire in March 2006. Peace talks began with the government shortly afterwards.

But that December, the separatist group detonated a bomb at Madrid’s airport, killing two people. In June 2007, it formally called off the truce.

ETA is blamed for the deaths of 829 people in its four-decade campaign of bombings and shootings to force the creation of a Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France.

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