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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 April, 2004, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Row erupts over Eta show in Spain
ETA hide-out
A life-size ETA hide-out was on show
A former leader of the armed Basque separatist group Eta in northern Spain is being accused of glorifying terrorism, Spanish television has reported.

Xabier Zumalde, 65, runs a museum about Basque cottages in the village of Artea, but he has now opened a show there about Eta's fight against the Franco dictatorship.

Eta is a terrorist group that has left over 800 people dead and, in a situation as delicate as the one we are experiencing in which all of us Basques are under threat, it shows a great lack of sensitivity
Inaki Egana
Hundreds of objects from the period 1965-77 are on display, including weapons, explosives, posters and a zulo or hideout with a life-size model of a militant.

Zumalde said he left the group after Franco's death in 1975 and is now a pacifist.

"I'm an Eta member, but one who has come to an understanding that the armed struggle is pointless," he told the Spanish daily ABC.

"I understand young people who carry out political street violence... because I created all the urban guerrilla manuals," he admitted.

Lack of sensitivity

Before the Eta show opened, political and victims' groups were already voicing their outrage. Inaki Egana of the Basque Socialist Party was unequivocal.

"Eta is a terrorist group that has left over 800 people dead and, in a situation as delicate as the one we are experiencing in which all of us Basques are under threat, it shows a great lack of sensitivity," he told ABC.

ETA poster
ETA has demanded Basque independence since the Franco era
The Popular Party (PP) called on the Basque authorities to close the exhibition and consider if Zumalde's statements constituted an offence of glorifying terrorism.

But Zumalde - nicknamed The Goat while he was in Eta - is unrepentant.

"I respect and understand the grief of a widow whose husband has been killed by Eta," he said. "Only we're not talking about that here, but about dictatorship and torture."

Statues of Franco

Newspapers in Madrid condemned the exhibition.

El Mundo described it as "a humiliating blunder for a society that suffers this scourge".

But the Basque daily later Gara issued an ironical retort.

"So the statues of Franco that bedeck squares and state museums, far from being an offence to his victims, must be some kind of worthy reminders of the fatherland's glorious history," it said.

"The lynching has begun by the Spanish nationalist media, whose executives in those years grew fat in the shadow of the Caudillo," it added.

The day before the show opened to the public, Basque police nailed boards over the museum's doors on the orders of Artea's mayor, Javier Beitia.

The reason given by Beitia - a member of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) - was that the museum was supposed to be about Basque cottages.

Zumalde wrenched the boards off and the exhibition opened on Saturday as planned.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.




SEE ALSO:
Who are Eta?
11 Apr 04  |  Europe
Basques urge Eta to end violence
11 Apr 04  |  Europe
Timeline: Spain
20 Apr 04  |  Country profiles


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