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Former ETA leader sentenced to 20 years in jail

Daniele Schirmo

A French court has sentenced the former head of the political wing of the Basque separatist group ETA to 20 years in jail. After the sentencing, the defendants and family members in the courtroom raised their fists and chanted for Basque independence.

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Mikel Albizu Iriarte, AKA "Antza", was sentenced to twenty years in jail after a month-long trial and will be banned from French territory. His partner Soledad Iparragirre Genetxea, who is also believed to be a former ETA leader was also handed down a 20-year sentence.

The couple was arrested in 2004 after a major operation that was described by the Spanish government as historic blow to ETA.

ETA is blamed for the deaths of hundreds of people in its four-decade campaign of bombings and shootings to force the creation of a Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France.

In September, the group announced it was stopping "armed offensive actions" and later called for international mediators. However, the Spanish government said this fell short of the required unconditional ceasefire.
 

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