The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez on Thursday presided over a ceremony to destroy over 1,400 guns, rifles and other weapons seized over the years from Basque separatist group ETA, which declared an end to their armed campaign in 2018.
A steamroller drove over three rows of weapons laid out in the courtyard of the Civil Guard´s Colegio de Guardias Jóvenes ‘Duque de Ahumada’. barracks in the south of Madrid as representatives of associations of victims of terrorism and law enforcement agencies watched.
“We have just witnessed an act of great symbolism in that long fight against terrorism that was so painful for our country,” said the Spanish Prime Minister.
“We will not be able to recover the lives that were lost, nor will we be able to erase the dark past as we have now destroyed these weapons, but we can fight against forgetfulness and repair the pain and honour” of the victims, he added.
Ninety percent of the nearly 1,400 weapons which were destroyed were seized from ETA between 1977 and 2005 and the remaining 10 percent belonged to Grapo, an armed far-left group which is no longer active.
The weapons will now be melted down and transformed into a monument symbolising the end of ETA, which was responsible for the murder of over 850 people during its four-decade campaign for an independent Basque state in northern Spain and southern France.
The head of the Memorial Centre for Victims of Terrorism in Spain’s Basque Country, Florencio Dominguez Iribarren, said: “behind these pistols, rifles and machine guns, there are many tragedies, many victims, which we must always remember.”