Spain asks Belgium to extradite ETA suspects
15 March 2004
BRUSSELS – Spain has renewed a request for Belgium to extradite a couple suspected of links with the Basque separatist group ETA.
The couple – Luis Moreno and Raquel Garcia – have been living in Belgium for ten years and up until now successive Belgian governments have always turned down Spanish requests for their extradition.
The Spanish authorities believe that in the early 1990s the couple sheltered members of an ETA commando unit who were subsequently found guilty of murdering a Spanish policeman.
On Sunday Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said he was aware of the latest Spanish extradition request and he added that there would be “no political interference” in the case.
Analysts say this means that if the Belgian judicial authorities agree to send the couple back to Spain, the government will not intervene to stop the extradition.
The latest Spanish request has been made using the new European Arrest Warrant (EAW), which became legal at the beginning of this year.
EAW’s end traditional diplomatic extradition procedures between EU member states, which nearly always involved contacts between diplomats, politicians and foreign ministries.
With the EAW system, an investigating judge in one EU country can make a direct extradition request to his or her opposite number in another Union state without involving embassies, foreign ministries or other diplomats.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Belgian news