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Criminalisation of Dialogue is the wrong path for Spanish Government - Maskey

7 January, 2009 - by Alex Maskey

Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey will travel to the Basque Country today, Wednesday the 7th January, in order to attend as an observer the trial of the former Basque Country Assembly President, Juan José Ibarretxe, and the Basque leader of the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Party), Francisco Javier "Patxi" López.

Both men are accused of speaking with Herri Batasuna leaders Arnaldo Otegi and Pernando Barrena. The Spanish authorities banned Herri Batasuna in 2003.

Speaking today Mr Maskey said:

"I am visiting the Basque Country to attend the trial of former Basque Country President, Juan José Ibarretxe, and Basque leader of the PSOE, Francisco Javier "Patxi" López. Both men are accused of meeting with Herri Batasuna.

"This trial has come about at the behest of victims groups who understandably are using any tool including the courts to advance their agenda. However in my view trials like this do nothing to advance the cause of bringing about a peaceful negotiated settlement in the Basque country.

"These were elected representatives from different political parties trying to bring about a negotiated end to conflict in their country. To criminalise those who seek dialogue is the wrong way to proceed as people seek to rebuild a conflict resolution process in the Basque country." ENDS

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