May 3 (UPI) -- Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Thursday the disbandment of the Basque separatist group ETA won't make its decades of violence disappear.
ETA, considered a terrorist organization by the European Union, announced it would disband after more than a half-century -- during which more than 800 people died amid its campaign of violence.
The group apologized last month for the violence, saying it accepts "direct responsibility" for years of bloodshed -- and asked for forgiveness for deaths of victims who had no "direct participation in the conflict."
Thursday, Rajoy said the ETA won't "find any loophole" to receive impunity for its crimes.
"ETA can announce his disappearance but neither his crimes nor the action of justice to persecute and punish them disappear," Rajoy said.
The Spanish premier said it was clear the group has been "defeated by the action of the rule of law and the strength of Spanish democracy."
ETA said it has "completely dismantled all of its structures" and will "no longer express political positions, promote initiatives or interact with other actors."
Almost half the killings blamed on ETA have not yet been fully been investigated. Security forces, politicians and business leaders were among those killed by the group.
Despite the group's ineffective attempts to create a sovereign Basque state, the region has more autonomy today than any of Spain's 17 regions -- with its own police force, education system, language and financial relationship with the federal government. The special powers were granted by Spain to the region in a new constitution in 1978.
Ed Adamczyk contributed to this report