- The Washington Times - Monday, March 31, 2008


Liechtenstein freezes ETA-linked accounts

MADRID — Liechtenstein authorities have frozen bank accounts suspected to be linked to Spain’s Basque separatist group ETA, a newspaper reported yesterday.

The move was a response to a request from Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon, El Pais said, adding that the money came “from extortion funds imposed on entrepreneurs in the Basque and Navarra” regions of Spain.

It said ETA, which is blamed for more than 800 deaths in its 40-year campaign for an independent Basque nation encompassing parts of northern Spain and southwestern France, funded its armed activities through a “revolutionary tax.”

Liechtenstein “was one of its favorite places” to “hide the extortion money,” according to a secret investigation by Judge Garzon, El Pais said.

The frozen accounts run into thousands of dollars, it said, adding that they were opened in the names of people linked to a bar in the northern Spanish town of Irun, near the French border. The bar’s owner, Joseba Elosua, was arrested in June 2006 during a vast operation to net ETA financier suspects.


Russian helicopter crashes; three dead

OSLO — At least three people were killed and two others injured when a Russian helicopter carrying nine people crashed yesterday on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic, Norwegian emergency services said.

“There is a Russian helicopter that crashed during landing at Barentsburg … on the Svalbard,” Sten Nikolaisen, an emergency services spokesman, told Agence France-Presse.

“Per now, there are three dead, two seriously injured. For the others, I don’t know,” he said. “There were nine people altogether.”

Per Sefland, the governor of Svalbard, confirmed the toll and said those on board were of Russian or Ukrainian nationality.

The wounded were evacuated to Longyearbyen, the main town on Svalbard, about 30 miles away, he told Agence France-Presse.


Parliament to vote on EU treaty

WARSAW — Poland’s parliament will vote on a new treaty for the European Union tomorrow, after a roadblock by the country’s conservative opposition was lifted, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said.

“We reached an accord and I am convinced that it will be accepted by the parliament,” Mr. Tusk told reporters after striking a deal with conservative President Lech Kaczynski to ratify the treaty by parliamentary vote.

Replacing the EU constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005 referendums, the Lisbon treaty is expected to be ratified by member states this year.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of Poland’s main opposition party and the president’s twin, had threatened since mid-March to block ratification, which already was delayed. The Kaczynski brothers had sought additional legal guarantees to protect Poland’s interests in the 27-member bloc.

Mr. Tusk rejected those demands and instead suggested ratification by referendum if the measure fails in parliament.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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