Sortu "will be at ETA's service," say investigators

Ministry gives prosecutors Civil Guard report for court appeal

Civil Guard investigators have determined that the newly formed Basque abertzale radical left party Sortu is an offshoot of the outlawed Batasuna and will be "at the service" of ETA if legalized.

The conclusions are contained in a report given to the Attorney General's Office by the Interior Ministry, so that prosecutors can appeal Sortu's petition to register as a legal party before the Supreme Court.

Investigators say that Sortu was organized as part of an ETA strategy "following the failure of the last attempt at a peace negotiation."

Sortu organizers, many of them prominent members of the abertzale left, registered their party's statutes with the Interior Ministry on February 9 in an attempt to field candidates in May's local elections in the Basque Country.

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Although the party's bylaws reject ETA and other terrorist violence, many leading citizens, including members of the opposition Popular Party, have demanded that Sortu not be given legal status.

According to the Civil Guard's investigation, ETA began discussing in 2007 "the design of a new strategic platform in an effort to strengthen another peace process." To support its theory, the Civil Guard turned over seven documents it confiscated during various ETA-related raids that demonstrate the new party would be organized as an instrument of Batasuna so that the outlawed organization could take part in the May 22 polls.

Batasuna, which was considered the political wing of the Basque terrorist organization, was outlawed in 2003.

It will be up to the Supreme Court and then the Constitutional Court to determine whether Sortu complies with the 2002 Political Parties Law.

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