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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, March 30, 2013 3:09 pm

Ex-leader of Basque group ETA dies in France

By HAROLD HECKLEAssociated Press

A former leader of armed Basque separatist group ETA died Saturday in a French hospital where he was receiving treatment while serving a prison sentence, officials said.

The 54-year-old Francisco Xabier Lopez Pena, alias Thierry, was taken from prison to a hospital on March 11, with heart trouble, and he died early Saturday from a stroke, an Interior Ministry spokesman said on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to give his name.

The French Justice Ministry confirmed that Lopez had died, without elaborating.

Lopez was arrested in the southern French city of Bordeaux in 2008, and documents seized during his capture led to dozens of arrests of other active ETA members.

ETA has killed more than 825 people since the late 1960s in its violent campaign for an independent state, but announced a permanent cease-fire in January 2011 following waves of arrests.