As I write this the convicted ETA killer, Juan Ignacio de Juana Chaos, has been released on bail after giving himself up to a British court in Belfast on Monday.
De Juana Chaos, who was freed from a Spanish jail in August after serving around 20 years for the killing of 25 people in 11 attacks, is wanted back in Spain on terrorism related charges and extradition proceedings are now underway.
Barrister Stephen Ritchie acting for the Spanish Government told the court the arrest warrant stated that on the day of his release on August 2 this year, De Juana Chaos gave an identified woman a letter to be read out in his name urging a continuation of the armed struggle.
The offending phrase said to have been made by De Juana Chaos was a Basque saying meaning “kick it up the field”, a footballing phrase which the Spanish authorities interpret as urging ETA onwards in its campaign of violence.
There is no denying the fact that De Juana Chaos is a convicted killer and if there is an injustice it is in the fact that having been sentence to 3,000 years in jail he was released after just 20. His victims enjoyed no such leniency. If you want to look in to the face of a cold bloodied killer look at De Juana Chaos.
However I have seen many other photographs of ETA members, on posters and Ministry of the Interior press releases, where the young men and women do not have an air of evil about them. On the contrary they look like the boy and girl next door which when thinking about it is even scarier.
There are those who believe in the Basque separatist movement so much that would aid and abet these killers. There are others, equally innocent looking, who would not hesitate in killing you or me, our children or loved ones, in the belief that is so doing they were striking a blow for a free Basque nation, a nation by the way that the majority of Basque people do not wish to belong to.
I am not a psychiatrist so I will not attempt to get inside these peoples’ minds. Yet let there be no mistake they would shed innocent blood in the pursuit of an ideal that has no popular support and even the majority of the few that would wish to see an independent Basque nation would not wish to see it built on a foundation of the broken bodies of ETA’s victims.
When Jesus hang dying on the cross he is believed to have said: “Forgive them father for they know not what they do.” Without a doubt he was talking of ETA, the IRA and every other terrorist group.
(It will come as no surprise to British readers that De Juana Chaos has been living in Belfast for six weeks and enrolled to claim social security benefits a week after his arrival and was assigned a National Insurance number. I understand his bail was also paid out of State funds.)