ETA suspect arrested in Belgium: prosecutor

28th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

A man suspected of being a member of the armed Basque separatist group ETA was arrested Friday in Belgium on a European warrant issued by Spain, the Belgian federal prosecutor said.

The man "was arrested on Friday and will go before a judge in the next 24 hours" said Lieve Pellens, spokesman for the prosecutor in charge of anti-terrorism.

While Belgian authorities did not identify the suspect, a Spanish police source told AFP he was Ventura Tome Queiruga who was wanted for attacks three decades ago.

"It is confirmed by anti-terrorist sources that the Belgian police have detained this man, Ventura Tome Quiroga... for attacks committed in the 1980s," for which he was convicted by Spain's high court, the source in Spain told AFP.

The source declined to give details of the charges against him but Spanish media said Queiruga, 55, had been on the run after being convicted of several bombings between 1983 and 1985.

Friday's arrest is the first since ETA declared an end to armed activity on October 20, though it stopped short of saying it was giving up its weapons or disbanding.

The use of European-specific arrest warrants, rather than international ones for suspects wanted in Europe, has speeded up what was a lengthy procedure that could take months, Pellens said.

Now suspects can be arrested and sent back to the country that issued the warrant in as little as 10 days.

In this case, once a Belgian judge has validated the arrest warrant, the case will be dealt with by the Spanish authorities.

© 2011 AFP

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