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Basque killer refused Belfast taxi permit

A Basque separatist convicted of 25 murders has lost his legal battle for a licence to work as a taxi driver in west Belfast.

Jose Ignacio de Juana Chaos' appeal against being refused a permit was rejected yesterday after a judge said there appeared to be a “blatant attempt to mislead” over his convictions.

Lawyers for the 54-year-old had claimed he had left his violent past behind him and wanted to make a fresh start.

Barrister Sean Devine told Belfast Magistrates Court de Juana Chaos should be treated as an exception to the rule where ex-prisoners can only apply for taxi licences three years after completing their sentence.

He said: “The offending behaviour purely related to the political theatre. The people subjected to the violence were members of the police force in Spain.”

De Juana Chaos — who is fighting extradition proceedings to face allegations of glorifying terrorism — was released from prison in August 2008.

Mr Devine said he has now removed himself from the political conflict and wants to drive specified routes for the West Belfast Taxi Association, where his wife already works.

Ruling on the appeal, District Judge Ken Nixon said: “De Juana was only released from prison on August 1, 2008 in the context of very serious offences... no matter what the theatre may be.”

Stressing the need to wait three years after release, the judge added that details about convictions included in the application appeared a “blatant attempt to mislead”.

He ruled: “Taking account of that and what I said earlier this application is rejected.”

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