SPANISH Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has slammed a decision by Basque political party EH Bildu to include 44 convicted members of now-defunct terrorist organisation ETA on its candidate lists for the upcoming local and regional elections.
Speaking from the White House, where he was on an official visit on Friday, the Socialist Party leader said that the move ‘was indecent’.
“There are things that may be legal but are not decent and this is one of them,” he said, in comments reported by Europa Press. He added that the only thing that ‘these people’ can contribute to society is a ‘message of sorrow, reparations and regret’.
EH Bildu is a nationalist coalition that seeks independence for the northern Basque Country region of Spain. It has historic links to other radical leftist parties that were outlawed in Spain during ETA’s bloody campaign, such as Batasuna.
Of the 44 former ETA convicts running in the upcoming elections, seven were convicted of murder.
Since the news emerged about their inclusion on Bildu’s electoral candidate lists, the High Court public prosecutor is considering whether to investigate the validity of their candidacy after a lawsuit was filed by a victims’ association called Dignity and Justice.
According to a report in Spanish daily El Pais, however, all 44 candidates are legally allowed to run, with any ban on public office that they were sentenced to during their trials now having expired.
The news that these candidates will be included on Bildu’s lists has caused outrage among victims of ETA’s decades-long violent campaign for Basque independence.
It has also given opposition groups such as the conservative Popular Party ammunition with which to attack the central government, given that the coalition of the Socialist Party and junior partner Unidas Podemos has often sought and received the support of Bildu in order to pass legislation in the Congress of Deputies.
ETA was operational between 1959 and 2018, the year when it was officially dissolved. The group killed nearly 830 people between 1968 and 2010, and injured tens of thousands more.
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