Palms of peace

February 23, 1996

(Photograph) - Palms of peace: Thousands of students, their hands painted white to symbolise their condemnation of violence, gathered outside the Autonomous University of Madrid last week on the day after the assassination of a prominent university professor by the Basque terrorist group, ETA.

Francisco Tom s y Valiente, professor at the university law school, was in his office when he was shot by a gunman posing as a student who ran off brandishing his gun at terrified students and staff. Professor Tom s y Valiente was president of Spain's constitutional tribunal from 1986 to 1992 and helped put in place the law governing the devolution of political power to the regions. He had frequently warned of the destabilising effects of terrorism on Spain's relatively young democracy, and the murder will raise the political temperature in the run-up to next month's general election. Javier Diez, deputy head of the law faculty, said: "ETA was seeking to assassinate a man who above all represented the Spanish state, a man who aided the implementation of basic liberties in Spain."

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