Six Basque separatists accused of FARC ties

7th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Spanish judge on Monday ordered the prosecution of six Basque separatists, including two former ETA leaders, for allegedly collaborating with the Colombian rebel group FARC.

National Court Judge Eloy Velasco, who has been investigating the suspected ties between the two outlawed organisations since last year, said Basque separatists had trained both members of ETA and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the Venezuelan jungle.

Francisco Javier Lopez Pena, a former ETA leader who was arrested in France in 2008, and Mikel Carrera Sarobe, the group's most senior commander who was detained in France last year, are among the six accused Monday of collaborating with FARC.

Velasco has already issued a series of arrest warrants in March last year for suspected ETA members living in Venezuela over their alleged links to FARC, including Arturo Cubillas, who was given a senior post in the agriculture ministry by the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2005.

Spain has requested his extradition. But Cubillas, as well as being a Spanish national, has also obtained Venezuelan citizenship, which the country's attorney general has said precludes his extradition.

The case has sparked tensions between Madrid and Caracas.

On Monday, Velasco additionally accused Cubillas of being the leader of ETA in the Americas.

He also ordered four other ETA members to be prosecuted on charges of "belonging to a terrorist organisation" or "possession of explosives" in relation to their alleged ties to FARC.

Documents pointing to ETA-FARC ties were seized from the Colombian rebel group following a military raid last September in which the group's leader, Jorge Briceno, was killed.

In his ruling last year, Velasco had charged that the ties between ETA and FARC had benefited from "Venezuelan government cooperation."

ETA is blamed for the deaths of 829 people in its four-decade campaign of bombings and shootings to force the creation of a Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France.

The FARC is the oldest and largest leftist group in Colombia with an estimated 8,000 combatants.

© 2011 AFP

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