The biggest trial ever directed at the Basque armed seperatist group ETA has opened in Madrid.
Fifty six people face a range of charges including belonging to or cooperating with the terrorist organisation, false accounting and tax violations. The case was launched by Spain’s famous anti-terrorism judge Baltazar Garzon and is not targetting armed militants but rather groups or organisations accused of promoting ETA politically, financially or through the media. The defendents all arrived in court wearing similar t-shirts bearing their case number and the slogan “For civil and political rights”. They face sentences ranging form 10 to 50 years. Dozens of supporters turned up outside court for the opening of the trial, which could last up to eight months. It starts just a few months after Spain’s socialist government held out an olive branch to ETA offering to open talks if the group laid down its arms. The Basque terrorist organisation has killed more than 800 people since 1968 in its fight for Basque independence.