• By The Financial District


The last known chief of Euzkadi Ta Atakasuna (ETA), the now-extinct Basque separatist group, goes on trial in Paris for terrorism charges that he deems “absurd” because of his role in ending a conflict that claimed hundreds of lives and terrorized Spain for half a century, Aritz Parra and Angela Charlton reported for Associated Press (AP)

Josu Urrutikoetxea led ETA during one of its bloodiest periods, when its victims included children bombed to death while sleeping in a Zaragoza police compound, where a monument to their stolen lives now stands. In a rare interview after 17 years on the run, he offered an apology, advised other separatist movements against resorting to violence and painted himself as a changed man. 

Amid growing international support, he won conditional release in July pending trial, after lawyers argued his poor health made him vulnerable to contracting coronavirus. He’s now staying with a professor friend near Paris’ Place de la Republique where he is trying to get a college diploma and is allowed out a few hours a day with an electronic bracelet. 

In a petition published Saturday, former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, academic social critic Noam Chomsky, separatist Catalan ex-president Carles Puigdemont and more than 250 other intellectuals called for France and Spain to end Urrutikoetxea’s “outrageous and intolerable” prosecution. By putting him on trial, they argue “France is implicitly criminalizing all negotiators and calling into question all current and future peace processes in the world.”