A French mercenary who claims to have worked as a hired assassin for the Spanish government has threatened to reveal the full workings of the dirty war launched against Basque separatists in the 1980s.

Jean Philippe Labade was questioned at a court in Madrid this week by the investigating magistrate, Baltasar Garzon, after claiming that he was paid by Spanish anti-terrorist police to kill two Basque separatists living in France.

His evidence could reveal the facts behind a campaign of bombing, shooting and kidnapping carried out by the Anti-Terrorist Liberation Group (GAL) which claimed 23 victims in the 1980s.

It could also further damage the reputation of the former Socialist prime minister Felipe Gonzalez, whose 13 years in government ended under a cloud of corruption and dirty-war scandals at the interior ministry.


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