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Basque nationalists launch party in Spain

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February 23, 2013 11:00 AM EST | AP

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PAMPLONA, Spain — Basque politicians have launched a nationalist party after Spain's highest court ruled it could be established because it was not directly linked to the militant separatist group ETA.

Sortu was launched formally Saturday, eight months after the Constitutional Court said it could come into existence because it was different from ETA's banned political wing, Batasuna.

At its inaugural congress, Hasier Arraiz was confirmed as president and a letter from imprisoned general secretary Arnaldo Otegi was read out.

Otegi is serving a 10-year sentence after being convicted in 2009 of trying to resurrect Batasuna.

Otegi's letter said the Spanish and French states "continue to deny the status as a nation of the Basque country" and continue to "deny its right to self-determination."