Basque politicians face jail for alleged ETA links¤

Three Basque party members who are accused of beloning to armed separatist group ETA were ordered by a Spanish judge to post bail or face jail.

The three are members of the pro-independence Communist Party of the Basque Lands, or EHAK, a small party that is said to be close to Batasuna, the outlawed group considered the political wing of the armed separatist group ETA. The communist party is also a key player in the Basque regional parliament which gained nine seats in elections in April.

The three men, Juan Jose Petrikorena, Peio Galvez and Joseba Zinkunegui, appeared before the judge on Wednesday. National Court Judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska has ordered them to pay the bail by Sept. 12. Otherwise, they would be taken into custody pending further investigation of the case.

The head of the banned Batasuna, Arnaldo Otegi, was indicted earlier this year on charges of being a top member of ETA.

The Spanish government offered in May to negotiate with ETA if it lays down its arms, but the group has responded with more than a dozen non-lethal bombings.

ETA, known by a Basque-language acronym for Basque Homeland and Freedom, has killed more than 800 people since it began a campaign in the 1960s for an independent state.

Four other founding members of the communist party party accused of collaborating with ETA, are to appear on Thursday, the AP reports.

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