Portuguese court jails ETA member for 12 years

6th January 2012, Comments 0 comments

A court in Portugal jailed a man Friday for having stored hundreds of kilograms of explosives in Portugal for the Basque separatist organisation ETA.

Andoni Zengotitabengoa Fernandez was convicted of membership of a terrorist organisation, possession of explosives and false documents, aggravated theft and attempting to flee from police.

Police were out in force at the courthouse in the central town of Caldas da Rainha, while about 30 supporters protested what they said were the poor conditions in which Fernandez had been held.

"Several charges have not been proven," his lawyer, Jose Galamba, told reporters outside the court.

"We are going to study the verdict and appeal," he added.

In February 2010, members of Portugal's military police found 1,500 kilos (3,300 pounds) of explosives in a house in the central Obidos region.

The building appeared to have been hastily abandoned.

Investigators identified Fernandez as one of two people who had rented it and arrested him soon afterwards at Lisbon airport as he was trying to board a flight to Caracas, Venezuela, using a false passport.

French police arrested his suspected accomplice Oier Mielgo in the spring of 2010.

In January 2010, two other presumed ETA members -- a man and a woman -- were arrested in northern Portugal after avoiding a check by Spanish police.

ETA, which is blamed for 829 deaths during four decades of bombings and shootings aimed at securing an independent Basque homeland, announced in October it was ending its armed activity.

© 2012 AFP

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