Basque, Breton separatists tried for joint theft

1st June 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 1 (AFP) - Fifteen Basque and Breton separatists went on trial in Paris Wednesday accused of stealing a huge haul of dynamite which experts say was used in car bomb attacks that killed 18 people in Spain.

PARIS, June 1 (AFP) - Fifteen Basque and Breton separatists went on trial in Paris Wednesday accused of stealing a huge haul of dynamite which experts say was used in car bomb attacks that killed 18 people in Spain.  

The five suspected members of the Basque group ETA and 10 from the Breton Revolutionary Army (ARB) are believed to have taken nearly nine tonnes of dynamite, 6,500 detonators and 10 kilometres of fuse in a raid on a depot in Brittany in September 1999.  

The explosives were used in a series of attacks over the following two years in Spain, as well as in a rare bombing in Brittany in 2000 that killed a woman at a McDonald's fast-food restaurant, investigators said.  

The theft was organised by ETA with logistical help of the Breton nationalists who provided the Basques with safe houses, prosecutors say. Afterwards they divided the dynamite between them.  

Links between the two groups were formed in the mid-1980s when the French government banned ETA exiles from Spain from settling near the Pyrenean border. Many moved to Brittany where they found common cause with the tiny pro-independence Breton movement.  

Among the accused is Jon Bienzobas Aretxe, also known as "Karaka," who Spanish police say is one their most wanted men.  

A group of some 30 pro-ETA activists protested with banners outside the Paris court buildings before the start of the trial, which is due to last for a month.  

Meanwhile in the southwestern French town of Bayonne, the pro-independence Basque party Batasuna said that it had discovered secret microphones planted in its offices.   Another group Askatasuna announced that ETA member Soledad Iparragirre Genetxea, or "Anboto," who was arrested in France in October, has gone on hunger strike.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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