France arrests ETA suspects' defence lawyer

26th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 25 (AFP) - A Spanish lawyer who often defends suspected members of the Basque separatist group ETA was placed under judicial investigation Monday by a French anti-terror judge, a source familiar with the case said.

PARIS, April 25 (AFP) - A Spanish lawyer who often defends suspected members of the Basque separatist group ETA was placed under judicial investigation Monday by a French anti-terror judge, a source familiar with the case said.  

Unai Errea Berges, from the Basque city of San Sebastian, is suspected himself of "criminal association relating to a terrorist group" for allegedly passing documents to ETA leaders being held in detention, said the source.   

Under French law, being placed under judicial investigation is the first step toward being formally charged.  

Errea Berges was later placed in preventive detention, as requested by state prosecutors.  

"My client formally denies transmitting any document whatsoever," said Irene Terrel, attorney for Errea Berges.   

"When attorneys are incarcerated, we have to be worried about the defence of our rights and freedoms, and ask ourselves about the fragility of our institutions," she added.  

Paris police arrested the Spanish attorney on Friday at the French capital's central courthouse. In May 2003, he was detained and placed under investigation after allegedly passing documents to a suspected member of ETA in a Paris jail.  

If the allegations are proven, it would in the eyes of French law establish a link between the Spanish attorney and the armed Basque separatist group.  

ETA is blamed for more than 800 deaths in its four-decade campaign for an independent Basque state covering parts of northern Spain and southwest France.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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