Wanted Basque separatist held in Vancouver

15th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

15 June 2007, VANCOUVER _ A man acquitted of being a Basque separatist, but still wanted in that country for attempted murder, was detained in Canada on immigration charges.

15 June 2007

VANCOUVER _ A man acquitted of being a Basque separatist, but still wanted in that country for attempted murder, was detained in Canada on immigration charges.

Victor Tejedor Bilbao, 50, who has been living in Vancouver since the late 1990s was picked up by Canadian authorities on June 1 and held on charges of being in the country illegally, said his lawyer Phil Rankin.

Canada's federal Immigration and Refugee Board spokeswoman Melissa Anderson refused to comment on the case, but Spain's Interior Ministry confirmed the arrest, adding in a statement that Bilbao is wanted for the attempted murder of a newspaper executive in 1981.

Spanish authorities claim that Bilbao was part of an ETA commando unit that carried out bombings at two electrical plants in the country's Basque region that same year. Following the attacks, he fled to France, only to be convicted on weapons charges and was extradited to Spain in 1988.

He was then imprisoned for a month while being tried on charges of being an ETA courier, but was acquitted and fled the country in 1990, the ministry said.

Authorities learned later that he was in Canada illegally and notified Canadian officials.

Bilbao's lawyer said his client denies any connection with the armed separatist group, and said Spain has not filed an extradition request.

"Extradition is the process one uses if there is a criminal hiding in another country. But they're not asking for extradition, they're not asking Canada to extradite. They're asking for immigration to boot him out because he's living here illegally," Rankin said.

A spokesman for the federal Justice Department, which would act for Spain in any extradition hearing, would not say whether it had received an extradition request.

ETA, whose name is a Basque-language acronym for Basque Homeland Freedom, has killed more than 800 people since 1968 in its campaign for a separate Basque state.

The group called off a 15-month cease fire with the Spanish government last week, blaming it for ruining the peace process and saying it will be "active on all fronts," a threat interpreted as meaning it would resume its attacks.

A bail hearing is set for July 12 and an immigration admissibility hearing is scheduled for Sept. 14 and 28, said Rankin.

[Copyright AP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

0 Comments To This Article