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|Wednesday, August 01, 2001, updated at 13:21(GMT+8)|
Thirty One ETA Members Brought to Trial in SpainThe judge of the Spanish Supreme Court Baltasar Garzon began a trial Tuesday of 31 presumed members of EKIN, an illegal political entity of the Basque separatist organization ETA, on the grounds of collaborating with the terrorist group.
The accused include six persons already jailed including, a former spokeswoman for juvenile groups related to ETA, Ane Lizarralde; a former spokesman for the previous political direction, Xabier Alegria; and the attorney of alleged ETA members or collaborators, Jose Maria Matanzas, and others.
All of them were arrested in September 2001 during a police operation that dealt a heavy blow to the organization. The operation followed an offensive launched in January 2000, following a 14-month-old ceasefire. Believed to be one of the bloodiest in history, Thirty four persons were killed
In Tuesday's indictment, Garzon also agreed to release information to the Supreme Court of the Basque country regarding regional parliamentarians of Euskal Herritarrok (EH), ETA's political arm and representation, Antonio Urruticoechea, Josu Ternera and Jon Salaberria.
Garzon believes the 3 parliamentarians to be leaders of ETA's political structure.
The judge's action coincided with criminal accusation Monday against the spokesman for the Batasuna party, ETA's regional political coalition, Arnaldo Otegi, by the Spanish Attorney General's office on charges of support for terrorist actions. The indictment was presented after statements made by the spokesman for Batasuna.
Otegi carried the coffin last Saturday of ETA member Olaya Castresana. He praised ETA's Basque soldiers and thanked the work done by those who died in the long struggle for self-determination in the Basque country.
Meanwhile, former ETA leaders, Francisco Mujika Garmendia and Jose Maria Arregi Erostarbe, were sentenced to 1,128 years in prison for a 1988 terrorist attack that killed two people and wounded many others.
ETA, whose name is a Basque-language acronym for Basque Motherland and Freedom, has been fighting since 1968 for a separate homeland encompassing parts of northern Spain and southern France. Over 800 people have been killed during the struggle.
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