Revealed: the ETA leaders behind peace process

30th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

30 June 2006, MADRID — Spanish security sources revealed on Friday the two men who are believed to be leading ETA, the Basque terrorist organisation.

30 June 2006

MADRID — Spanish security sources revealed on Friday the two men who are believed to be leading ETA, the Basque terrorist organisation.

The long-standing political head of ETA, Jose Antonio Urrutikoetxea, and the chief of the Basque organisation's armed wing, Mikel Garikoitz, are believed to be the current leaders.

Anti-terrorism officials told EFE that the two men - who go by the nicknames "Josu Ternera" and "Txeroki," respectively - form the core of ETA's leadership.

But the security authorities were cautious about offering an opinion as to what their involvement might be in peace talks between ETA and Madrid which were announced on Thursday by Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

The officials said that Urrutikoetxea is the one the government has been communicating with, something that has not been officially confirmed

He has been recuperating from a serious illness in a German hospital.

Josu Ternera, according to an investigation by the attorney general's office, is allegedly the head of Ekin, the political apparatus that succeeded the now defunct KAS coordinator.

The anti-terrorism officers following his movements believe that Urrutikoetxea is being helped by his son Ekaitz and the latter's girlfriend, Ainhoa Ozaeta.

Ozaeta is believed to be the woman who read out ETA's permanent ceasefire message in a video released in March.

Garikoitz is also an enigma for Spanish security officials not only because there are doubts about his leadership of the military wing but also because of the possibility that his nickname or alias - Txeroki - might be a combination of those of several ETA leaders, along the same lines as former leader "Artapalo."

Of all the leaders that ETA has had, Urrutikoetxea is the only one to have stayed at the top of the organisation for the past three decades.

He is thus considered a key figure in the peace process.

Some ETA leaders and founders - including Julen Madariaga, who was recently arrested for his links to ETA's extortion network but subsequently released - have left the terrorist organisation and are now working within legal political parties.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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