Hunger strike launched for French Basque suspect


Supporters launched a hunger strike to protest against Spanish efforts to have a wanted Basque separatist arrested in France, they said Wednesday.

One of the hunger strikers, Joritz Larraza, 21, told AFP the protest aimed to draw attention to the plight of Aurore Martin, a Frenchwoman and member of the Basque separatist party Batasuna who has gone into hiding.

Larraza, speaking for a group of 10 hunger strikers most of whom are students, said they would sleep each night at a church in the town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, in the Basque region of southwestern France.

He said French courts’ approval of a warrant to arrest Martin was “not acceptable in a democracy” since Batasuna, the political wing of the armed separatist group ETA, is not an outlawed group in France as it is in Spain.

“They want to extradite her to Spain… to please Spanish justice,” he said.

Spain issued an arrest warrant for Martin, 31, on charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation.

The Batasuna party was banned in 2003 for refusing to condemn deadly violence by ETA in its more than 40-year campaign for independence for the Basque country of northern Spain and southwestern France.

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