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Arrest of Basque leader is retrograde step

8 June, 2007

Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly today said that the arrest and jailing of Batasuna leader Arnaldo Otegi was a retrograde step which will make the task of rebuilding the Basque Peace Process all the more difficult.

Mr Kelly said:

"In the wake of the collapse of dialogue and the end of the ETA cessation Sinn Féin along with many others who wish to see a viable conflict resolution process put in place in the Basque country called for all sides to show restraint and redouble efforts.

"The arrest today by the Spanish Government of Arnaldo Otegi and the returning to prison of Basque prisoner and Hunger Striker Inaki de Juana Chaos are retrograde steps which will be seen as politically punitive and will make the task of rebuilding the process all the more difficult.

"However I would once again repeat the call for genuine dialogue and engagement. This can be the only way forward if a proper process of conflict resolution is to be put in place." ENDS

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