BILBAO, Spain – Tens of thousands of people are protesting in the Basque city of Bilbao calling for some 350 imprisoned members and sympathizers of the armed pro-Basque independence group ETA to be allowed serve their sentences closer to home in northern Spain.
In addition to prisoner families, relatives of victims of ETA took part for the first time in the annual demonstration. Protesters held placards reading "I Denounce" against the Spanish government's policy of dispersing ETA prisoners in 40 prisons across Spain to restrict contacts between them.
ETA killed 829 people in its nearly four-decade campaign for Basque independence. The group announced a permanent cease-fire in 2011, but Spain's Interior Ministry says there will be no change in its dispersion policy until the group fully disarms and its members ask for pardons.