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Police arrest five in pro-independence riots

Latest update : 2009-02-15

Demonstrators in Spain's Basque Country defied a judicial order to rally in Bilbao against a ban on pro-independence parties from regional elections in March. Police arrested five people as protesters set fire to rubbish bins and blocked roads.

AFP - Police in Spain's Basque Country clashed with demonstrators and arrested five people Saturday at an illegal protest over the banning of pro-independence parties from regional elections next month.
   
The demonstrators set fire to rubbish bins and blocked roads in the protest in the Basque city of Bilbao, held in defiance of a ban on the gathering by top anti-terrorist Judge Baltasar Garzon.
   
They also broke the video cameras of two journalists from Basque television.
   
The Vasco Press news agency said one group also threw molotov cocktails at a centre of the ruling Basque Nationalist Party, but there was no damage.
   
It said police charged the demonstrators, leading to five arrests.
   
Leftist Basque radicals called the demonstration to protest a Supreme Court  decision last week to ban two pro-independence parties, Askatasuna and the Democracy Three Million (D3M), from March 1 regional elections because of their links to the armed separatist group ETA and its political arm Batasuna.
   
Among the protesters Saturday were some ex-leaders of Batasuna and the spokesman of the D3M.
   
ETA has been blamed for the deaths of 825 people in a four-decade campaign for an independent Basque homeland straddling northern Spain and part of southwestern France.
   
Radical Basque separatist parties draw support from approximately 10 percent of Spain's Basque voters.
 

Date created : 2009-02-15

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