Basque party angers ETA victims’ families by adding former terrorists to elections list

Families of victims of former terrorist group ETA were left angered after the pro-independence Basque party EH Bildu included 44 convicted former ETA members of the organisation on its official lists for the regional and municipal elections.

The decision by EH Bildu to include former ETA members, seven of which have been convicted of murder, in some of its 300 lists for the municipal elections in the Basque Country and Navarre (north) has sparked a bitter debate among political circles in the region and in Madrid, in a particularly heated campaign.

Among the first politicians to react was the Spanish Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska (PSOE), who considered the move by EH Bildu an “insult to democracy” and “a serious harm to the victims of terrorism”, EFE reported.

Euskal Herria Bildu (EH Bildu,”Reunite Euskal Herria” in Basque) is a coalition of pro-independence and nationalist Basque parties. Founded in 2012, it has four MPs in parliament. Its leader (“General Coordinator”) is former ETA member Arnaldo Otegi.

Meanwhile, the leader of centre-right opposition Partido Popular (PP/EPP), Alberto N??ez Feij?o, said on Saturday that it was not only indecent to have former ETA members on EH Bildu’s lists, but it is also indecent that the PSOE has the support of the pro-independence Basque party in Parliament to approve some of its policies.

A “provocation” to the victims

Among families of ETA victims, reactions were fierce: Daniel Portero, president of the organisation Dignidad y Justicia (Dignity and Justice), urged the Spanish Public Prosecutor’s Office to check whether the move complies with the provisions of the Law on Political Parties.

The Asociaci?n de V?ctimas del Terrorismo (Association of Victims of Terrorism, AVT), who has analysed the sentences of the 44 EH Bildu candidates, pointed out that they have all served their disqualification sentences and, therefore, there are no grounds for ineligibility, public regional Basque radio and television EITB reported.

Portero, son of the former chief prosecutor in Andalusia, Luis Portero, murdered by ETA in October 2000, stressed that the controversial candidacies could represent “a flagrant breach” of the Law on Political Parties, “as the political formation EH Bildu includes people convicted of terrorism on its lists”, which would lead to “their outlawing”.

Meanwhile, Consuelo Ord??ez, president of the group Victims of Terrorism in the Basque Country (Covite), said the initiative by EH Bildu is a “provocation” and the result of a “democratic deficit” and urged both the PSOE and the PP to adopt “minimum political and ethical criteria” on this.

Five years after the formal end of ETA, wounds still open

Ord??ez, sister of Gregorio Ord??ez, a PP councillor in San Sebasti?n murdered in January 1995, criticised the PSOE for “not taking a position” on her proposal and the PP for “using terrorism politically”, El Pa?s reported.

On 3 May, Spain commemorated five years of the formal end of ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, Basque Country and Freedom, in Basque). The group killed some 840 people in its 60 years of terror (1958/60-2018).

In the statement “ETA’s Final Declaration to the Basque people”, the group explained that its formal end meant “the total dismantling of all its structures.” It also made clear that the time had come for “the end of its trajectory and its political activity.”

(Fernando Heller EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es)

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