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Sinn Féin MEP expresses deep concern at possible jailing of Basque leader

21 March, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has voiced her concern at this Friday's hearing in the Spanish National Court which may result in the jailing of Batasuna leader Arnaldo Otegi. In the past week one member of the leadership of Batasuna has been jailed and a further two members have been released on excessive bail.

The recent legal move runs counter to recent statements by the Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Zapatero that 2006 will be a year of political progress in the Basque Country. The Sinn Féin MEP called for the threats to be lifted and for the Spanish government to work with others to build a genuine peace process.

Ms de Brún said:

"The continuation of the ban on the Basque political party Batasuna and jailing of its leadership will only serve to undermine efforts to establish a peace process.

"The Spanish government needs to end its policy of criminalization. Threats to arrest key members of the Batasuna leadership should be lifted immediately and the harassment of political prisoners should end.

"It is Sinn Féin's view that a real opportunity exists to make progress. I would call on the Spanish government to stop creating obstacles to progress and to work with others to create the conditions for inclusive dialogue." ENDS

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