Spain has opened a new chapter in its persecution of Basque leftist pro-independence leaders. Judge Baltasar Garzon ordered yesterday the arrest of 10 top-officials including Batasuna's former leaders Arnaldo Otegi and Rufi Etxeberria and former LAB trade union leader Rafa Diez.
All Basque political parties have criticized the measures. Spokesman for PNV (Basque Nationalist Party) in the Basque Parliament, Joseba Egibar, has put arrests under suspicion saying that "all these people are opting for political channels; it is obvious they are not asking to join ETA, quite the opposite". Publico newspaper reports that Egibar has declared to Euskadi Irratia that "those who ordered the arrests do not wish for ETA to disband".
Aralar party has issued a harsh press release few hours after the event which considers arrests as very alarming, since "nobody can be imprisoned for taking the plunge into politics". The party has expressed its solidarity towards the detainees and has called the Basque parties and society to condemn the arrests.
According to EiTB, Eusko Alkartasuna believes that arrests are aimed at "hindering any move towards political channels" and "giving a boost to the most radical views within the Basque National Liberation Movement".
Chairman of Ezker Batua, Mikel Arana, has said that detainees belong to "sectors backing peaceful and democratic channels". He further added that the operation is due to "political motivations instead of legal reasons or criminal motives".
- Gara: Batasuna: "La izquierda abertzale actuará con total determinación para que se abra un nuevo ciclo político"
- ElPaís.com: Rubalcaba: "La izquieda 'abertzale' tiene que decidir entre la violencia y la política"
- EiTB: Detienen a Arnaldo Otegi, Rafa Díez y Rufi Etxeberria en Donostia
See the Basque Country profile for further information.