Spanish judge to question ex-FARC guerrillas over ETA links

6th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Spanish judge wants to question former members of Colombia's FARC guerrilla group to help identify suspects from the armed Basque separatist organisation ETA, court sources said Wednesday.

Judge Eloy Velasco, who is investigating the alleged links between the two groups, has asked for permission to speak to nine ex-members of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Velasco wants to show them pictures of suspected ETA fighters in order to identify them, the sources said, quoting a court document dated September 21.

Also Wednesday, Spanish prosecutors asked Velasco to send a rogatory commission to Colombia to seek documents relating to alleged ETA-FARC ties, including some seized from FARC following a military raid last month in which the group's leader, Jorge Briceno, was killed.

Briceno, known as Mono Jojoy, was killed in a Colombian military assault launched on a rebel camp on September 22, in what Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos described as "the hardest blow ever" to FARC.

Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon promised Wednesday that Bogota will share with Spain any information it has gathered as a result of the raid that might help Madrid in its fight against ETA.

"If there is any information that would help the government of Spain or the Spanish judicial authorities in the fight against terrorism and against this criminal group ETA, they can count on it," he told a news conference in Madrid.

"Whatever information that can help any country in the world in the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, the activities of illegal armed groups, we will provide it," he said.

Velasco has been investigating alleged links between FARC and ETA since last March, when he charged six ETA members and seven FARC fighters with involvement in a plot to kill former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe and other Colombian officials while they were visiting Spain.

He also accused the Venezuelan government of involvement the plot, allegations denied by Caracas.

The judge based his case largely on information found in the computer of Raul Reyes, the FARC's former number two who was killed in Ecuador in March 2008 in a Colombian military operation.

Spanish court documents released Monday showed that two suspected ETA members arrested in Spain last week have said they received weapons training in Venezuela.

ETA is blamed for 829 deaths in its 42-year campaign for independence in the Basque region of northern Spain and southwestern France.

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

© 2010 AFP

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