[JURIST] Spain's Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] on Sunday unanimously banned the Basque separatist political groups Democracy 3 Million (D3M) and Askatasuna [orders, PDF, in Spanish] from participation in the coming March elections. The court found that Askatasuna was a "fraudulent instrument used to give continuity to the activities of political parties outlawed" such as the ETA [BBC backgrounder, JURIST news archive] and Batasuna [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The court further found that D3M was "directed, produced, energized and encouraged by Batasuna." The decision of the Supreme Court is subject to review [El Pais report, in Spanish] by the Constitutional Court [official website, in Spanish].
In January, prosecutors filed charges [JURIST report] alleging that the Basque regional prime minister and two other leaders of the Basque socialist party had improper contact with Batasuna, but later requested that the charges be dismissed [JURIST report]. Last year, a Spanish judge blocked [JURIST report] the ETA-affiliated groups the Basque Nationalist Action Party (ANV) [party website] and the Communist Party of the Basque Lands (PCTV), finding that Batasuna had used the groups to circumvent its ban from participating in elections. The Spanish government barred the Basque separatist group Batauna in 2003, finding that it refused to cut ties with ETA.