ETA victims call on Spain’s Congress to ban convicted terrorists from public office

TERRORISM victims have called on Spain’s Congress of Deputies to ensure that convicted members of now-defunct Basque terrorist group ETA cannot hold public office. 

Speaking on Tuesday in Congress, the president of the Terrorism Victims Foundation (FVT), Tomas Caballero, said that in the name of ‘democratic dignity’, anyone who has been sentenced for terrorism crimes should be banned from standing as a candidate in any elections ‘for life’, even if they have served their sentence. 

His speech was made at a yearly tribute to Spain’s terrorism victims in the lower house of parliament, and in the presence of representatives of members of EH Bildu, the radical leftist party that was once the political wing of ETA.

The words of Caballero, whose father was killed by ETA in 1998, came in the wake of Bildu’s decision to include 44 former terrorists – including seven convicted killers – as candidates in the local elections that were held on May 28. 

The decision caused huge controversy, not least for the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of the Socialist Party, who has done several deals with Bildu in Congress in recent years in order to pass legislation. 

“Given situations as painful as seeing those convicted for terrorist attacks on electoral lists, I call on you to take a step forward and strengthen the legislation that we already have,” he said, in comments reported by Europa Press. “Avoid those who tried to destroy the pillars of our coexistence by taking the lives of our parents, brothers, children or friends from becoming representatives of the people,” he continued. 

Caballero also lamented the fact that pro-nationalist parties in the Basque Country continue to pay public tribute to former members of ETA, citing an event in Bilbao in June for Txabi Etxebarrieta, whom he described as the ‘first ETA assassin’. 

ETA was officially dissolved in 2018 after a decades-long bloody campaign for an independent Basque Country. Created in 1959, it killed nearly 830 people between 1968 and 2010 and injured tens of thousands more.

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