In recent days Spanish Courts have rejected the appeal by Basque leader Arnaldo Otegi, and his four co-accused, against their convictions for which they were sentenced to 6 years imprisonment.
The charges in 2009 were that they attempted to reconstitute the political structures of banned pro independence political party Batasuna, They will remain in prison.
This week the Spanish courts have also sentenced 20 Basque political activists to periods of up to 3 years imprisonment on allegations of being members of ETA in a large politically motivated show trial despite one of the three judges firmly stating that all of the accused should be acquitted.
The 20 included several political leadership figures of the Basque independence movement including Rufi Etxeberria, who together with Arnaldo Otegi, spearheaded the Basque peace process.
Commenting on the rejection of the appeal and the recent convictions Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said:
"This is the latest in a wide array of obstacles placed in the way of the Basque peace process and aimed in particular at the leading advocates of the peace process in the Basque independence movement.
“It is impossible to draw any conclusion from this other than that the Spanish authorities are dedicated to the political defeat of those advancing the right to self determination through peaceful and democratic means in the Basque Country.
“It is an attempt to close down the right by many within the Basque Country to set political independence as a preferred outcome.
“This is entirely unjust and anti-democratic. It denies the right to freedom of political expression. It is political folly and this policy should cease. The draconian laws which underpin this policy should be revoked."