(eng)French court sentences 70 linked to Basque group

The Anarchives (tao@presence.lglobal.com)
Sun, 24 Dec 1995 00:00:59 +0000 (GMT)

^French court sentences 70 linked to Basque group@
(Adds first name of prosecutor 9th graf)
PARIS (Reuter) - A French court Wednesday sentenced 70
suspected members of the Spanish Basque separatist group ETA and
alleged French collaborators after a controversial mass trial.
Ten people were acquitted at the trial of 33 Spanish Basques
and 47 French nationals.
The suspected ETA members received jail sentences of up to
eight years. The alleged French collaborators, most of them from
Brittany in northwest France, were handed suspended prison
sentences ranging from four months to two years.
Accused of giving refuge to ETA (Basque Homeland and
Freedom) guerrillas from 1988 to 1992, the French defendants
argued they were merely helping ``refugees fleeing torture.''
Only 10 of the Basques, many of them held in preventive
detention since 1991 or 1992 after vast police sweeps against
ETA support networks, were at the trial.
ETA has killed about 800 people in Spain in its 27-year
campaign for Basque independence.
Miguel Gil Cervera, convicted of carrying out guerrilla
attacks in Spain and then fleeing to France, was given the
toughest jail term of eight years.
He was also banned from French territory for five years when
his jail sentence ends.
``ETA survives thanks to them,'' prosecutor Irene Stoller
said of the Breton defendants.
``I'm obviously not accusing them of preparing guerrilla
attacks but ETA is a very closed, hierarchical organization
where everyone has a role. The Bretons' role was to welcome into
their homes people belonging to the ETA who laid the groundwork
for (criminal acts),'' she said.
Breton and Basque groups have protested the trial, saying
the defendants were providing only legal asylum. They accused
France of staging a political trial.