Spain has marked the 25th anniversary of the kidnapping and murder of Partido Popular local councillor Miguel Ángel Blanco.
Both King Felipe VI and the Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez marked the anniversary with leading dignitaries and family members to pay their respect to the former Basque politican, who was killed by the ETA terrorist group in 1997.
Blanco’s abduction on the 12th July and subsequent murder shocked the whole country and marked a turning point in the fight against the armed separatist group.
The 29-year-old elected conservative councillor was kidnapped by ETA, who threatened to assassinate him unless the Spanish Government started transferring all ETA prisoners to prisons in the Basque Country within 48 hours.
Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in demonstrations throughout Spain, demanding his release, but less than hour after the deadline he was shot in the back of the head.
His body was found on the outskirts of San Sebastián, with his hands tied, dying. He died in the hospital at 4:30 a.m. on 13 July.
Three former ETA leaders were charged on Friday for their alleged role in the high-profile killing.
In 2018, the terrorist group formally abandoned their armed campaign after four decades of violence that resulted in more than 800 deaths.
Spain’s King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez were joined by the Basque regional president Iñigo Urkullu at a ceremony over the weekend in Blanco’s former town, Ermua.
In his speech, Felipe VI called for unity and the so-called “Spirit of Ermua” to remember “the value of peace, life, freedom and democracy”.
Spain cannot allow there to be generations “who ignore what happened in those painful days ” he added.
Pedro Sánchez also announced that Spanish students would also receive “direct testimony” from the victims of terrorism to help them understand historical events.
“Something changed us forever into a different country that would never again bow down to terrorism,” he said.