Spain returns top ETA suspect to France

23rd September 2009, Comments 0 comments

A court in Spain decided to return the suspected ex-military chief of Basque separatist group ETA to France just one day after he arrived for questioning because he refused to testify.

Madrid -- A court in Spain decided Tuesday to return the suspected ex-military chief of Basque separatist group ETA to France just one day after he arrived for questioning regarding several attacks because he refused to testify.

Spain's top criminal court, the National Audience, had until 26 September to question Garikoitz Aspiazu, alias Txeroki, but it decided to send him back to France where he was arrested last year after he made a brief statement in the Basque language indicating he would not speak.

Aspiazu also refused to sign court notifications that he had been indicted for five attacks carried out in 2002, including an assassination attempt against Eduardo Madina, a lawmaker and former young Basque Socialists leader who lost a leg in the attack.

He has also been charged in connection with a bomb attack at the Madrid airport car park in December 2006 that killed two Ecuadorian immigrants.

The bombing torpedoed tentative peace talks between ETA and the Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Aspiazu arrived at a military base in Getafe, just south of Madrid, on Monday. It is the first time that French authorities have temporarily transferred an ETA suspect to Spain before he is put on trial in France.

Considered a leader of ETA's hardline wing, he was arrested in a pre-dawn raid on a rented apartment in the French Pyrenees spa resort of Cauterets in November 2008.

A judge in Paris charged him in connection with the December 2007 killing of two undercover Spanish police officers in southwestern France.

France approved his temporary transfer to Spain earlier this month after Madrid made the request in July.

AFP / Expatica

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