Spanish national court judge Juan Pablo Gonzalez is to prosecute the Basque country nationalist and separatist group ETA for crimes against humanity on Friday.
Gonzales’ decision to open a “crimes against humanity” probe is the first of its kind in Spain.
Although Gonzales refrained from describing ETA’s actions as “genocide.” he stressed that ETA’s actions are “a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population or its representatives, which qualifies them as a crime against humanity."
Gonzales’s decision read that “systematic attacks against the representatives of the civilian population represents the persecution on political and ideological grounds, destruction [of the representatives] or removal by force or terror are considered strategically necessary for the organization [ETA] to achieve its political objectives."
The national court’s probe started over the complaints of ETA victims’ associations on ETA for the murders and kidnaps in 2014.
Gonzales issued a judicial decree demanding information on the murder and kidnap cases in October 2014 which were allegedly carried out by ETA.
Although ETA has been active since 1960s, the probe will look into ETA’s activities after October 2014, when the legislation on “crimes against humanity” was introduced in Spanish Penal Code.
According to the penal code, crimes against humanity can be sentenced with a 30-year prison sentence.
ETA has been active in Spain since 1960s fighting for the independence of the Greater Basque Country. The group has allegedly taken part in 829 deaths and number of armed attacks in Spain.
ETA agreed to a permanent ceasefire in October 2011, however the group refused to give up its arms as demanded by the Spanish and French governments and destroyed its own arsenal instead of handing them over to the government right after the announcement of the ceasefire.