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Arnaldo Otegi

Arnaldo Otegi in a rally by Iniciativa Internacionalista

Spokesman for Batasuna
In office
1997 – 2003 (Batasuna declared illegal)

Born 6 July 1958 (1958-07-06) (age 51)
Elgoibar, Basque Country, Spain
Political party Batasuna
Residence Basque Country

Arnaldo Otegi Mondragón (born 6 July 1958) is a Basque politician and spokesman for the Basque separatist party Batasuna, which was declared illegal in 2003 for its ties with ETA, a violent separatist organization proscribed as terrorist.

Before entering politics, he had been convicted for having been a militant of ETA, taking part in several actions. Then in the 1990s, after having served time, he started his career in politics, quickly gaining prominence within Basque separatism and becoming the leader of Batasuna. On 27 April 2006 he was sentenced to 15 months in prison for glorifying terrorism in a speech he gave in 2003 in commemoration of the killing of a prominent ETA member 25 years ago. He started serving the sentence on 8 June 2007 [1] and was then released from prison in August 2008. In October 2009 he was arrested again for attempting to reform Batasuna.

He remains an important figure within Basque separatism.

Contents

Biography

Otegi was born 6 July 1958 in Elgoibar, (Guipuzcoa), in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country. He holds a university degree in philosophy and literature, and is married with two children.

Between 1977 and 1989 he was actively involved in several operations conducted by ETA, a separatist organization seeking to establish a Marxist-Leninist Basque state. On 21 February 1989 he was found guilty of kidnapping and imprisoned for four years [2]. He decided to change the approach through which he would effect the change he desired. In the Basque parliamentary election, 1994 he was the seventh placed candidate in Guipuzcoa on the list of Herri Batasuna (HB), a pro-Basque independence party linked to ETA. HB won six seats at the election with Otegi initially failing to be elected but on 27 September 1995, he became an MP, substituting a party colleague. In November 1997 the Spanish Supreme Court sentenced several senior members of Herri Batasuna to seven years in jail, due to alleged involvement with ETA, and in the resulting power vacuum, Joseba Permach and Otegi were chosen to fill the new provisional leadership of Herri Batasuna.

On 12 September 1998, Otegi played a key role in the formulation of the "Declaration of Estella/Lizarra", which proposed to solve the Basque conflict by beginning a process of dialogue with other nationalist parties, most prominently, the Partido Nacionalista Vasco (PNV). In the Basque parliamentary election, 1998, he was a candidate for the party Euskal Herritarrok, which had replaced Herri Batasuna, representing the region of Gipuzkoa. The Lizarra-Garazi agreements, which resulted in an ETA truce at that time, helped give Euskal Herritarrok their best results in ten years, and they became the third-largest political party in Basque Country and the adjacent region of Navarre. This popularity in terms of votes was reversed as ETA broke the truce with new assassinations.

Recent trials

In August 2000, a senior court in Basque Country accused Arnaldo Otegi of "glorifying terrorism", after allegedly he had shouted "¡Gora Euskadi ta Askatasuna!" in France. However, the Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo) closed the case, stating that crimes such as "glorifying terrorism" could not be pursued if committed abroad.[3][4] This precedent was then called forth by the Audiencia Nacional concerning the Carmelo Soria case [5].

In May 2005 Arnaldo Otegi was put on trial for membership of the separatist group ETA, and posted bail for €400,000. Arnaldo Otegi was arrested the next year, only three days after ETA called off its "ceasefire". Simultaneously, a Supreme Court ruling confirmed a 15-month prison sentence against Otegi for "glorifying terrorism," [1] [2] committed in 2003. He appealed the conviction, but a panel of judges unanimously rejected the appeal. Furthermore, Otegi was sentenced to a year in prison in November 2005, on allegations of slander made against King Juan Carlos during a 2003 news conference. Otegi had then stated that the King was the "chief of the Spanish army, that's to say, the person responsible for the torturers, who favour torture and impose his monarchic regime on our people through torture and violence" [2].

Release

He was released from his latest conviction in August 2008[6]

As of September 2008, he has four open trials against him for ETA-related charges[7]

References

External links

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