Police in the Basque Country believe that the man who killed former Socialist councillor Isaias Carrasco in Mondragón, Guipuzcoa province last Friday, was a a so-called “liberated” member of the Basque terrorist group ETA, that is, a former active member who the group hires to kill selected victims. Sr Carrasco, who ran for re-election as a Socialist councillor in last year’s municipal elections in 2007, was shot three times in the back of the neck, head and chest as he left his home in Mondragón. Witnesses said the gunman, wearing a false beard, had fired at close range before fleeing the scene in a grey car. Police said Sr Carrasco’s wife and one of his three young daughter rushed out of the house after hearing the gunshots and alerted the authorities. He died later in hospital. A neighbour said: “I looked out of the window and I saw his wife and daughter on top of him shouting ‘murderers, murderers’. His chest was covered with blood and they had got blood on them too.” After Sr Carrasco lost his bid for re-election, he gave up the official bodyguard who had been assigned to him when he was a councillor. Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was at a campaign rally in Malaga when he heard the news. He immediately flew back to the Madrid to address the nation on television. Vowing to use every means to hunt down the killers, Sr Zapatero said: “We knew that Eta could still cause irreparable damage and pain to Spaniards. Today they have added another victim to their long and ignominious list.” He insisted Sr Carrasco’s murder should not have any effect on the outcome of Sunday’s election: “The terrorists wanted to interfere today in the peaceful manifestation of the will of the people at the ballot box. But Spanish democracy has demonstrated that it does not allow challenges from those who oppose its basic principles and its most essential values.” The main political parties called a halt to their last day of campaigning after news of the killing emerged. However, at a meeting held Friday afternoon to draw up a statement condemning the killing, representatives of the parties rejected the Partido Popular’s request to include a commitment by all parties never to negotiate with ETA. Mr Zapatero broke off peace talks with ETA in December 2006, after two people died in a bombing by the group at the Madrid airport car park. The Socialist Party unexpectedly won the last election in March 2004, three days after Islamist terrorists planted bombs on trains in Madrid killing 191 people and injuring more than 1,800. ETA first emerged in the 1960s as a student resistance movement bitterly opposed to General Franco’s repressive military dictatorship, under which the distinctive Basque culture was suppressed. Since then, the group has killed more than 850 people – including members of the Guardia Civil, and both local and national politicians who are opposed to ETA’s demands for independence for the seven regions in northern Spain and south-west France that Basque separatists claim as their own. Euskadi Ta Azkatasuna, the group’s full name, stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom. Sr Carrasco’s murder cast a shadow over the election last Sunday when the country’s 35 million eligible voters went to the polls to elect 350 members of the Congreso, or lower house of parliament, and 208 members of the 264-member upper house, the Senate. The remaining 56 Senate seats are decided by indirect election by assemblies in the country’s 17 autonomous regions.
ETA MURDER OVERSHADOWS ELECTION