Spain’s National Court has sentenced a member of the militant Basque separatist group ETA to 83 years in prison in its first such ruling since ETA declared a ceasefire eight days ago, judicial sources announced Monday.

ETA’s former military leader Gorka Palacios was found guilty of helping to organise a car bombing that killed a police officer in Madrid in July 2001.

The truce has raised hopes of an eventual peace process after more than four decades of violence, during which ETA has killed about 850 people in its campaign for a sovereign Basque state.

The Spanish government, however, has pledged to maintain a hard line against ETA until it definitively lays down its arms.

The National Court earlier prohibited a pro—independence rally that had been scheduled to take place in the Basque region over the week—end. A smaller, unscheduled protest meeting was staged instead.

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