Three more ETA activists arrested in France

30th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

MENDE, France, Nov 30, 2006 (AFP) - Three suspected members of Spain's armed separatist Basque group ETA — including its alleged logistics chief — were being questioned Thursday by police after being arrested in southern France, officials said.

MENDE, France, Nov 30, 2006 (AFP) - Three suspected members of Spain's armed separatist Basque group ETA — including its alleged logistics chief — were being questioned Thursday by police after being arrested in southern France, officials said.

They were apprehended without resistance Wednesday in the tiny village of Quezac, where they had rented a house under false identities, pretending to be writers in search of seclusion.

Officials said they were to be transferred to Paris for questioning by an anti-terrorist judge after their interrogation by police.

One of them was Zigor Garro Perez, 36, whom Spanish police have identified as heading up ETA's arms procurement cell for the past two years.

He was convicted in absentia by a Paris court Wednesday and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment as part of a trial of 14 ETA members.

That court also Wednesday sentenced Garro Perez's alleged predecessor, Asier Oyarzabal-Chapartegiu, 35, to 20 years behind bars.

According to Spanish media, the two other suspected ETA members arrested with Garro Perez were his girlfriend Marina Bernado Bonada, 37, and Ekain Mendizabal Mugica, 25.

French police were seen inspecting a vehicle at the farm which they suspected of being stolen and used to transport 350 handguns stolen last month in the region.

Oyarzabal-Chapartegiu, the 35 year-old head of the banned group's logistical operation, was arrested in September 2001 in Dax, southwestern France. The court on Wednesday handed him a 20-year sentence with no possibility of parole for 13 years.

A total of 14 people have been tried since November 17 for links to the banned group, including two in their absence.

Police have also arrested six others who they believe constituted the "backbone" of the structure that supplied ETA with arms, explosives, false documents and funds during its bloody four-decade campaign for an independent homeland in parts of northern Spain and southern France.

Oyarzabal-Chapartegiu was also sentenced to 20 years in June 2005 for the theft in 1999 of more than eight tonnes of explosives from Plevin in the northwestern French region of Brittany.

Five of his co-accused were sentenced to 17 years and one to 13 years, each with a requirement to spend a minimum of two thirds of their sentence in prison.

On Spanish radio on Wednesday, ETA defended the use of "street fight" tactics to further the aims of Basque separatism.

In a bulletin broadcast on the Cadena Ser radio station, ETA said the resumption of urban violence, known as "kale borroka", constitutes a "logical response" to "judicial and police attacks against the separatist left".

The representative added that the violence would continue "if the situation did not change".

ETA is thought to have been responsible for more than 800 deaths in its campaign, but in March signed what it said was a "permanent ceasefire" which it appears to have respected.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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