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Separatist gets 30 years for slaying of Spanish politician

October 18, 1997

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ A member of a Basque separatist group was sentenced Friday to 30 years in prison for his role in the slaying of a ruling party member two years ago.

Valentin Lasarte, a leading member of the group ETA, was convicted by Spain’s National Court for helping plan the ambush of Gregorio Ordonez, a Popular Party deputy from the Basque region.

A lone gunman shot Ordonez in the head on Jan. 23, 1995, as he sat eating lunch at a crowded bar in the Basque city of San Sebastian.

Lasarte, who was tried in September, admitted that he had tracked Ordonez for several weeks and had fingered him for ETA’s gunman on the day of the shooting. He was arrested in March 1996.

Arrest warrants also have been issued for two other suspected ETA members for their part in Ordonez’s murder.

Lasarte received two other 30-year sentences earlier this month after he was convicted for slaying two other people, in 1993 and 1994. Lasarte confessed to those murders.

Thirty years is the maximum penalty Lasarte could receive under Spanish law.

ETA, whose name stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom, has killed nearly 800 people since it began fighting for an independent Basque state in northern Spain in 1968.

The group is blamed for 12 killings so far this year, including Monday’s shooting of a Basque policeman in Bilbao and the July shooting of a Popular Party politician.

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