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Spain moves against ETA

Spain moves against ETA

MADRID, Spain -- A series of measures aimed at cracking down on the armed Basque separatist group ETA have been unveiled by the Spanish government.

The measures involve removing legal protection from juveniles involved in ETA-related activities, but who until now could not be prosecuted, and classifying some minor crimes as terrorist acts.

Seeking to undermine ETA's base of youth supporters, the government approved a preliminary measure that would allow minors as young as 14 to be legally responsible for crimes committed in the name of ETA.

  INTERACTIVE
ETA-related violence in 2000
Timeline of the ETA campaign
 
  MESSAGE BOARD
Terrorism in Spain
 

ETA, which for more than 30 years has been campaigning for an independent state incorporating the Basque areas of northern Spain and southern France, recently claimed responsibility for a summer offensive of bombings and killings.

In another move against the group, the interior ministers of Spain and France met on Friday to renew joint co-operation on cross-border security and policing.

The proposal will be reviewed by opposition parties before being sent to parliament along with other measures, including adding offences such as burning buses or possessing bomb components to Spain's list of anti-terrorist laws.

Molesting targets would also be made illegal, a response to ETA collaborators telephoning victims or their families.

Spain's Justice Minister Angel Acebes said: "At the moment, street violence is only considered terrorism if there is a risk to life or of injury to individuals.

"When the reforms I have proposed are passed ... danger to the life or physical integrity of individuals will not be necessary for a terrorist offence to have been committed."

As Acebes outlined his government's proposals, the Spanish Interior Minister Jaime Mayor Oreja met with his French counterpart Daniel Vaillant, in Madrid, to reaffirm their countries' co-operation to tackle ETA.

"There will be an effort to make crossing the borders more difficult, we are going to make a joint effort," Mayor Oreja told a news conference.

Summer of bombings and killings

Earlier this month, ETA admitted carrying out four murders - including those of leading Basque businessman Jose Maria Korta in a car bomb attack on August 8 and the fatal shooting of army officer Francisco Casanova at his home in Pamplona a day later -- and planting a car bomb in Madrid which injured 11 people.

The group also admitted planting a bomb which killed two Civil Guard police officers near the border with France in the Pyrenees mountains on August 20.

Since the ETA statement, town councillor Manuel Indiano, 29, was shot and murdered inside his sweet store in Zumarraga.

While it is believed ETA carried out the killing of Indiano, who represented the ruling Popular Party, which fiercely opposes Basque separatism, it has not claimed responsibility.

Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
ETA admits carrying out recent killings in Spain
September 1, 2000
Spain mourns murdered politician
August 30, 2000
Bombs explode in Basque country
August 24, 2000
ETA: One of Europe's most feared separatist groups
August 8, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Spanish Government
French Government

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