Rajoy says ETA disappearing will not erase its crimes

The logo of the armed Basque separatist group ETA | Ander Gillenea  AFP via Getty Images

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy called the statement a "rumor" and "propaganda", stressing that the separatist group had been "defeated by rule of law actions and the strength of Spanish democracy".

Despite the group's ineffective attempts to create a sovereign Basque state, the region has more autonomy today than any of Spain's 17 regions - with its own police force, education system, language and financial relationship with the federal government.

"ETA was born from the people and now it dissolves back into the people", said the letter, which was read out by David Harland, director of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.

"ETA, a Basque national liberation socialist revolutionary organization, wants to inform the Basque people about the end of its trajectory, ' said the text, according to which, the group dismantled 'its structures totally" and concluded its entire political activity.

ETA was blamed for the deaths of at least 829 people during its armed campaign.

"It's very hard when there are open wounds", she said. "That is the end of ETA".

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Thursday the disbandment of the Basque separatist group ETA won't make its decades of violence disappear.

Thursday, Rajoy said the ETA won't "find any loophole" to receive impunity for its crimes. "It can announce its disappearance but its crimes will not disappear, nor will the work of justice to track them down and punish them", he told reporters after a speech to inaugurate a Civil Guard training center in Logrono, northern Spain.




"We won't owe them anything and we have nothing to thank them for".

Attacks by ETA and retaliation by Spanish state death squads traumatised Spain, peaking in the 1980s and 1990s.

Weakened in recent years by the arrest of its leaders, ETA announced a permanent ceasefire in 2011 and began formally surrendering its arms last year.

On April 20th it asked forgiveness from its victims for the first time for the "pain" caused by its decades-long campaign of violence.

A partial apology by the separatist group last month in which it acknowledged the harm done and apologised to some of its victims - but not to those it considered legitimate targets such as police - has done little to temper the criticism.

A final public declaration from ETA, which Spain regards as a terrorist group, is expected later on Thursday.

Global mediators are organising a peace conference in southwest France on May 4th.

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