Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Wednesday, 14 October 2009 16:28 UK

Spain seizes Basque party leaders

Leader of the banned Basque political party Batasuna, Arnaldo Otegi (file image)
Arnaldo Otegi has served time in prison for terrorism-linked crimes

Spanish authorities have arrested 10 senior members of the Basque separatist movement's banned political wing, Batasuna.

Those arrested include former party leader, Arnaldo Otegi, who was seized in the coastal city of San Sebastian.

The political grouping was outlawed in 2003 because of its alleged links to the armed separatist group Eta.

Eta has been blamed for more than 820 deaths during its campaign for an independent Basque homeland in Spain.

Tuesday's arrests were made on the orders of High Court Judge Baltasar Garzon, reportedly on the basis that the party was trying to re-form under instructions from Eta.

Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said Spain would resist any attempt by the party to re-establish itself.

"Everyone can think what they like in Spain, what they cannot do is defend these ideas through violence. Violence and politics are incompatible," he said.

Otegi, the former leader of Batasuna, has served prison sentences for crimes including praising terrorism.

A judicial source was quoted as telling AFP that Rafael Diez Usabiaga, a well-known figure in the Basque independence movement and the secretary general of the LAB union, was among those arrested.

The group is reported to have been meeting secretly at the union headquarters since the beginning of the year.

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