Former ETA leader jailed as Zapatero makes Basque visit

Francisco Javier García Gaztelu, known as "Txapote," found guilty of the deaths of Fernando Buesa and Jorge Díez

A former ETA leader was sentenced to 105 years in prison on Monday for ordering the assassinations of a Socialist politician and his bodyguard in February 2000. This is the first conviction against an ETA member since the terrorist group's announcement last month that it has definitively renounced violence.

The High Court found Francisco Javier García Gaztelu, "Txapote," guilty of the deaths of Fernando Buesa and Jorge Díez, who were killed in Vitoria, the Basque capital. Two other people were hurt in the bomb attack, caused by a vehicle loaded with 20 kilograms of dynamite and metal shrapnel that went off as the deputy and his aide drove to the regional parliament.

Vitoria on Monday hosted a historical visit by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who met with regional Socialist leader Patxi López to discuss the challenges that lie ahead following ETA's announcement.

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Zapatero thanked "the vast majority of the Basque people" for achieving the end of terrorist violence. "I would say that the credit for this goes to Basque society."

It was only the second time in the history of Spanish democracy that the head of government had visited the Palace of Ajuria Enea, the Basque regional seat of power.

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