Operation smashes ETA's extortion network

20th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

20 June 2006, MADRID — Police in Spain and France have delivered a decisive blow against ETA, arresting 12 members of its extortion network.

20 June 2006

MADRID — Police in Spain and France have delivered a decisive blow against ETA, arresting 12 members of its extortion network.

The 12 suspects had spent the past 20 years extracting what they called a "revolutionary tax" from terrified victims.

Among those arrested was one of the founders of ETA, Julen de Madariaga, and its financial chief, Ángel Iturbe Abásolo.

Two investigative judges, the Spaniard Fernando Grande-Marlaska and the Frenchman  Laurence Le Vert Levert, led the investigation.

It was initiated by Judge Baltasar Garzón in 1998.

Arrests were made in the Pyrenees in south-west France, near Biarritz and Bayonne.

Seven Spaniards, five men and two women, aged between 29 and 74 were detained. Three were retired.

Most lived respectable lives and appeared to have integrated into French life, despite their known ETA sympathies.

The suspects were named as:  Ángel Iturbe Abásolo, 53, the financial brains behind the group;  José Luis Cau Aldanur, 63, Julen Kerman de Madariaga y Aguirre, 74, one of the founders of ETA in the 1950s; Maria Cristina Larrañaga Arando, 52, Eloy Uriarte Díaz Guereñu, 65,  Maria Izaskun Gantxegi Arruti, 61, José Ramón Badiola Zabaleta, 48, Joseba Imanol Elosúa Urbieta, 72, José Carmelo Luquín Vergara, 29, Ramón Sagarzazu Olazaguirre, 69, Jean Pierre Harocarene Camio, 41 and Ignacio Aristizábal Iriarte, 59.

The group allegedly made death threats mostly to Basque business people demanding they pay the 'revolutionary tax'.

According to one group of Basque business people, these threats had continued despite ETA's 'permanent ceasefire', announced in March.

The government, which has said the ETA truce is 'real', has launched an investigation into these claims.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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