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News > World

Spain's Supreme Court Confirms 535 Years Jail for ETA Militants

  • Three members of Basque separatist group ETA call for a definitive end to 50 years of armed struggle in a video published 2011.

    Three members of Basque separatist group ETA call for a definitive end to 50 years of armed struggle in a video published 2011. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 April 2018

The jail sentences come as ETA is preparing its final dissolution, which sources close to the case say will happen "before the summer."

Spain's Supreme Court has confirmed 535-year prison sentences for two ETA militants just weeks before the Basque separatist group is expected to announce its dissolution after decades of violence.

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Liher Aretxabaleta Rodriguez, 38, and Alaitz Aramendi Jaunarena, 40, were handed the sentence last year by Spain's National Court, which deals with terror cases, but they appealed.

They were sentenced for 45 "terrorist murder attempts," according to a ruling by the Supreme Court, which rejected their appeal. They are also accused of placing a car bomb in the San Blas district of Madrid in May 2005 "with the intention of causing as much damage as possible, accepting the potential death or injuries of people there or nearby."

On May 25, a call was made at 8.45 a.m. to Gara – a Basque daily newspaper which has traditionally been ETA's mouthpiece – warning that a van was going to explode 45 minutes later on a specified road in Madrid.

The explosion went ahead and caused injuries — most of them involving people's hearing — as well as damage to vehicles and buildings.

Aramendi is currently serving an 18-year jail sentence in France for belonging to an illegal organization with the intention of preparing a terror act. Aretxabaleta was handed over to Spain by France in 2011.

The group announced a permanent ceasefire in 2011 and last year laid down its arms after waging a violent decades-long fight for independence which has killed at least 829 people.

The northern Basque Country is now gearing up for the dissolution of the group created in 1959 at the height of the Francisco Franco dictatorship, though questions remain over how to move forward.

Nationalists and peace negotiators want former ETA prisoners to be reintegrated into society as a necessary step for cementing lasting peace, while some victims are first demanding the separatist group apologize for its past deeds.

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