Batasuna leaders arrested in France
Spanish and French police arrest 10 Batasuna leaders after investigating their bank records.26 September 2008
MADRID/PARIS -- French police raided the offices and homes of Batasuna's leadership in France, arresting 14 people as part of an investigation into the financing of Basque terrorist group ETA, Spanish and French officials announced Wednesday.
Among the suspects in custody are the 10 most-senior leaders of the French part of Batasuna, which was outlawed in Spain in 2003 for its links to ETA, but which remains a legal association in France.
Four other suspects are members of the Communist Party of the Basque Lands (PCTV-EHAK), which was outlawed by the Spanish Supreme Court earlier in September, also for having ties to ETA.
French police, assisted by Spanish investigators, are researching several bank transfers from PCTV-EHAK in late 2007 to accounts in the name of members of Batasuna's French wing.
They think that the money, which was originally given to PCTV-EHAK as state subsidies when it was a legal political party in the Basque regional parliament, financed ETA's bombing campaign in Spain.
The main suspects that were arrested include Xabi Larralde, the head of Batasuna in France.
"The arrests are related to the possible financing of Batasuna by the PCTV", Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba said after a meeting with his French counterpart Michèle Alliot-Marie in the French town of Toulon, near Marseille.
Asked whether the investigation could lead to outlawing Batasuna in France, Alliot-Marie said it will depend on how judges decide to continue with the case.
The raids Wednesday follow the arrest of two suspected ETA members in central France on Tuesday and come after several car bombings in the Basque Country and Cantabria over the weekend, in which one army officer was killed and 18 people were injured.
[El Pais / Expatica]