Celebrity chefs deny paying cash to ETA

18th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

18 October 2004, MADRID - Two celebrity chefs who allegedly paid thousands of euros to the Basque separatist terror group ETA appeared in court Monday.

18 October 2004

MADRID - Two celebrity chefs who allegedly paid thousands of euros to the Basque separatist terror group ETA appeared in court Monday.

No details of what was said during their appearance before the Audencia Nacional, Spain's highest court, were revealed.

But after the 40-minute hearing, Juan María Arzak and Pedro Subijana insisted they were "simple cooks" and "good people".

Subijana, speaking for both chefs, said they were "brave people, chefs who devote themselves to providing pleasure to people and they demand a little respect."

ETA suspect José Luis Beotegi claimed last week four of Spain's top cooks had paid thousands of euros to the terrorist group.

Beotegui told a court that Carlos Arguiñano, Martín Berasategui, Pedro Subijana and Juan María Arzak had paid a "revolutionary tax" to the Basque separatist organisation.

Beotegui, who was arrested two weeks earlier in a series of operations against ETA, claimed the four cooks have paid EUR 72,000 in all.

The four cooks are among the most prestigious in Spain and run exclusive restaurants in the Basque Country.

The ETA suspect later said only Arzak and Subijana had paid the yearly payments.

The judge called Arzak and Subijana to give their version of events.

They could face charges of collaboration with the armed group and collecting funds for ETA.

Beotegui, who is alleged to have helped ETA members living in France to hide and to collect funds for ETA, was remanded in custody.

The chefs are known Europe-wide for their stellar gourmet fare at their restaurants in the northern Basque region.

The two other chefs who Beotegui alleges were targeted, Karlos Argignano and Martin Berasategui, are due to appear as witnesses some time next week, according to judicial sources.

Arzak and Berasategui run two of Spain's four Michelin three-Star restaurants.

A half-dozen strong group of Basque chefs from both sides of the Franco-Spanish border meanwhile issued a statement in support of the four accused and criticised "those who want to lynch their colleagues.

"They have been instrumental in the renewal of Basque cuisine and the appreciation of the profession," the chefs said in a statement issued in the Basque resort city of San Sebastian.

Meanwhile, El Mundo newspaper's director Pedro J. Ramirez revealed that ETA
had sent a letter to one of its reporters acusing him of working for the

According to Ramirez, who did not name the journalist concerned, ETA has
published the reporter's name in its internal bulletin.

Ramirez added ETA had referred to comments by the reporter in a recent
radio conference organised by Spanish news agency Europa Press on the armed
separatist group.

"You use the word terrorist to speak about ETA and its members. You encourage police operations," Ramirez quoted the ETA letter as saying, adding it had accused the journalist of "revelling in the incarcerations, the torture and the kidnap of ETA members."

According to Ramirez, the case was representative of how Spain, in his
view, is "the only country in the European Union where freedom of expression
is limited by a terrorist organisation.

He added some Spanish reporters needed bodyguards, unlike colleagues from
newspapers such as Britain's The Guardian, Italy's Corriere della Serra or
French daily Liberation.

The latest allegations against the two chefs and the journalist come after 19 members of ETA, including its political leader and his partner, were arrested last week in a series of raids.

It was the most important operation against ETA for 12 years as it removed the group's de facto leader.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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