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Spanish Army reform shaken

A senior Spanish general, Marcello Aramendi, was found dead in his office in the Madrid military headquarters May 13, an apparent suicide, Monitor contributor Jane Monahan reports. The general, who was a liberal, had been closely involved in the drafting of a new military reform that is now being debated by parliament.

The main effect of the reform -- the first of its kind to be introduced since the abortive military coup Feb. 23 -- will be to change system of promotions in the armed forces by lowering the age when senior officers, from the rank of lieutenant colonel up, are placed on reserve.

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General Aramendi's death comes shortly after two terrorist attacks on liberal Army officers. On May 7, Gen. Joaquin Valenzuela was seriously injured and three other members of the King's military entourage killed.

Earlier in the week an artillery general, Andres Gonzales de Suso, was killed. This assassination was attributed to another terrorist organization, GRAPO (First of October Anti-Fascist Resistance Groups). His death represented a serious blow to investigations into last February's coup plotters. As well as being the adviser to the first minister of defense in the democracy, General de Suso was one of the best-informed people in the Spanish armed forces on activities of right-wing military dissidents.

In the wake of these incidents police cracked down on the Herri Batasuna (United People Party), the second-largest nationalist party in the northern Basque region.Seventy-three party members were detained last weekend, then released after questioning.

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