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Tags: Basque | separatists | trial | Spain

Basque Separatists on Trial in Spain

Monday, 03 May 2010 09:39 AM EDT

MADRID – Three suspected Basque separatists went on trial in Spain Monday over a bomb blast at Madrid's airport in 2006, an attack that killed two people and torpedoed peace talks with the government.

Mattin Sarasola, Igor Portu and Mikel San Sebastian, all suspected members of the armed Basque separatist group ETA, are accused of involvement in planting the bomb in a van that exploded in a car park of the airport on December 30, 2006.

Two Ecuadorian immigrants who were sleeping in their cars were killed and 41 people slightly injured.

The three defendants, who said they had been tortured by police, refused to issue a plea at Monday's opening session of the trial at the High Court in Madrid, which is to continue until Thursday.

They are accused of "two terrorist killings and 41 attempted killings." Prosecutors are also demanding that they pay the victims' families 500,000 euros each in compensation.

Portu and Sarasola were arrested on January 9, 2008, while San Sebastian was detained some six weeks later in southwestern France.

ETA's former military chief, Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, who was arrested in France in 2008, is also scheduled to go on trial at a later date over the attack, which he is suspected of masterminding.

The bombing led the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to officially end a tentative dialogue with ETA launched six months earlier.

However, contacts between the two sides continued for some months, until ETA officially called off a 15-month-old ceasefire in June 2007.

The government has since taken a hard line against the group, arresting dozens of ETA activists.

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.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Monday, 03 May 2010 09:39 AM
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