Arrest of ETA leader: "Political reconciliation not worth amnesty", says Macron

"I think that the political reconciliation, the exit of the arms does not remove anything and does not worth amnesty", affirmed Friday Emmanuel Macron, the day after the arrest in Haute-Savoie of Josu Ternera, one of the most influential chiefs of the Basque separatist organization ETA today dissolved. The separatist was transferred to the Paris prosecutor's office on Friday before being presented to a judge of liberty and detention (JLD) who ordered his imprisonment

While the Basque collective Bake Bidea ("Way of Peace"), had said Thursday that the arrest was an "insult in the current context," the French president admitted that certainly "this person had read the text" of the dissolution of ETA a year ago, after more than forty years of armed struggle. But "nevertheless, it committed serious crimes and a jail sentence was pronounced", argued Emmanuel Macron during a trip to Biarritz where he praised "the commitment of many elected officials of the region".

"This person was apprehended and (…) was delivered to the Spanish justice to serve his sentence," he said by mistake the president, no judicial decision has yet been made public on a possible transfer.

"In any case, it is not up to me to decide on any amnesty for the Spaniards. And in this case, that's what it's all about, "he continued.

READ ALSO>Who is Josu Ternera, the former head of ETA arrested in France?

Sentenced by default in Paris

Josu Ternera was arrested on Thursday in execution of a French arrest warrant issued after his conviction by default in 2017 by the Criminal Court of Paris, to eight years in prison for "participation in a terrorist criminal conspiracy". Since the conviction in 2017 was handed down in his absence, 68-year-old Josu Ternera has the opportunity to apply for trial again. Otherwise, the sentence will be executed.

With his real name Jose Antonio Urrutikoetxea Bengoetxea, the former number one of the organization was, in turn, the inspiration for a strategy of deadly attacks and the promoter of peace negotiations with the Spanish state, before to be removed from the direction of the group.

In hiding since 2002

He went into hiding in 2002 to escape prosecution after an attack on a Civil Guard barracks in Zaragoza, northern Spain, which killed 11 people including five children in 1987. According to the National Hearing, top court based in Madrid, he is also wanted for his alleged involvement in the assassination, in 1980, of a Michelin Group executive in Spain.

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