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Taboo-breaking Basque comedy is blockbuster in Spain

By Emma Pinedo MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish filmgoers are lining up for a surprise hit comedy about Basques and separatist guerrillas - complete with jokes about car-bombings - in a film that would have been unthinkable in Spain before now. The movie, "8 Apellidos Vascos" (8 Basque Surnames), has viewers in stitches over the cultural divide between a slick-haired young man from southern Spain and his Basque girlfriend.

Meetings on ETA raise disarmament hopes in Spain

Hopes have risen for the disarmament of western Europe's last major violent separatist group, the Basque movement ETA, ahead of a visit on Friday by international experts seeking a settlement. ETA is blamed for the deaths of 829 people in a four-decade campaign of shootings and bombings for an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France. In October 2011 it announced "the definitive end to its armed activity" but it has refused to formally disarm or disband as the Spanish and French governments demand.

ETA prisoners' shift raises disarmament hopes

Jailed Basque separatists have raised hopes that they may be moving towards disarming ETA, western Europe's last major armed secessionist group, by softening their stance on key demands. The prisoners gave ground on one of the most sensitive aspects of the stand-off between ETA and the Spanish and French authorities -- the terms of their jailing and potential release. In a statement on December 28, EPPK, a collective representing hundreds of jailed ETA members, dropped its long-standing demand for a general amnesty.

Spanish child rapist, killer freed under rights ruling

A Spanish court Friday ordered the immediate release of a man who raped and killed three children, cutting his prison time by 10 years in line with a European human rights ruling. The killer, Miguel Ricart, was the latest convict to benefit from an October 21 ruling by the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights. The Strasbourg court said Spain had acted illegally by retroactively cutting short the years of remission that an ETA prisoner had earned from good behaviour.

Remains found in Spanish gym belong to one person

Vitoria, Spain, Jun 4 (EFE).- The human remains found at a martial arts gym in the northern Spanish city of Bilbao belong to a single person, sources involved with the investigation told Efe. Last Sunday, the Basque regional police arrested the owner of the gym for binding and then beating a Nigerian woman, leaving her in a coma and, when searching his gym, they found human bones. Police had been called by a witness who early Sunday afternoon had seen a woman being forced into the gym.

Basques launch new independence party

Basques from Spain and France on Saturday formally launched a new pro-independence party, Sortu, born from the ashes of Batasuna which was outlawed for links to armed separatists ETA. About 300 delegates from the Basque regions of Spain and France elected leaders for the left-wing party at a congress in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona. They chose former Batasuna member Hasier Arraiz Barbadillo, 39, as party leader and as secretary general Arnaldo Otegi, who is in jail for trying to resurrect Batasuna after it was banned in 2003.

Spanish regions angry at "provocative" defence minister speech

By Clare Kane MADRID, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Two Spanish regions with strong independence movements reacted angrily on Monday to a speech by the country's defence minister that said the military was prepared and calm in the face of "absurd provocations". Defence Minister Pedro Morenes made the comments at Spain's annual Epiphany military parade on Sunday, provoking reaction from politicians in Catalonia, where leaders are moving towards a referendum on independence from Spain, and the Basque Country.
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