Page last updated at 12:51 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

Basque leader's trial thrown out

The head of the Basque regional government, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, at his trial in Bilbao
Juan Jose Ibarretxe was put on trial last week

A Spanish court has thrown out a case against the head of the Basque regional government, who was accused of illegal contacts with banned separatists.

The court acted after the prosecution admitted that the contacts were not illegal, after all.

Basque Nationalist politician Juan Jose Ibarretxe went on trial last week, along with two members of Spain's governing Socialist Party.

They had met the separatist group Batasuna during a failed peace effort.

Batasuna is the banned political wing of the militant group Eta.

Five members of Batasuna were also on trial in the case, which was thrown out of court on Monday.

The case had resulted from complaints filed by two conservative groups opposed to talks with Eta.

But the Basque region's Supreme Court ruled that the case was illegitimate, since prosecutors themselves had asked that it be dropped, saying holding talks with Batasuna was not actually against the law.

Eta is blamed for the deaths of more than 820 people in its 40-year campaign for an independent Basque nation.

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