Basque town sets aside funds for jail visits to ETA terrorists

Council led by Bildu coalition votes for measure ruled illegal by Supreme Court

The Basque town of Sopelana, in Bizkaia province, has allotted 22,500 euros to pay for the trips made by relatives of ETA terrorists who are jailed elsewhere in Spain. The decision was passed by the local council thanks to votes by Bildu, the ruling coalition which includes pro-sovereignty abertzale radicals with traditional ETA sympathies, with support from the more moderate Basque Nationalist Party (PNV). The two Socialists and one Popular Party representative voted against the move.

This type of financial aid for visits to ETA prisoners had already been granted by the PNV when it ruled Sopelana until May, when local elections turned power over to Bildu. The practice was considered illegal in early 2010 by the Supreme Court.

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Spain has a policy of dispersing ETA convicts across national territory, and it has long been a demand of radical nationalists to move them to Basque prisons. With Bildu now a major force across the Basque Country and with abertzale representation in Congress, the topic is expected to gain greater relevance.

Meanwhile, the ruling party has a mandate to stop the proliferation of pro-ETA posters and graffiti that cover the town. The proposal was put forward by the Socialists and backed by the PNV.

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