A spanish High Court judge yesterday summoned the national committee of radical Basque nationalist party Batasuna to face charges of forming part of armed separatist group ETA, Spanish court sources said. Judge Baltasar Garzon, stepping up his relentless campaign against ETA and Batasuna, ruled that 22 members of the Batasuna's governing board “have formed part of the decision-making framework of the organisation (ETA) with full knowledge and participation of its criminal aims”. In August, Garzon ordered Batasuna's suspension for at least three years for allegedly supporting and funding ETA, which has killed 837 people in 34 years in a campaign for an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwest France. Batasuna, which won 10 percent of the vote in Basque elections last year, shares ETA's aims for a Basque state and it refuses to condemn the group's attacks. However, the party denies it is the political arm of ETA, Western Europe's most active guerrilla group. While the party's offices have been closed and demonstrations by its supporters are banned, Batasuna's legislators continue to sit in the regional Basque parliament in Vitoria and hold town councillor posts across the region. Among those named by the judge were Batasuna's leader Arnaldo Otegi, a former ETA member who has served a prison sentence for kidnapping, and Basque regional legislator Antonio Urrutikoetxea, alias Josu Ternera.

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