Expatica news

Belgium to extradite ETA suspects

14 May 2004

BRUSSELS – Two Spanish men arrested in Belgium on suspicion of belonging to the Basque separatist organisation ETA are to be extradited to Spain.

The two men, Jon Lopez Gomez and Diego Ugarte Lopez de Arkaute, were arrested at the end of March in the Belgian town of Bossu.

The Belgian authorities initially refused to send the two men back for trial in Spain, despite an official extradition request from Madrid.

But on Friday a Belgian court overturned the earlier decision on the case and said the two suspects should be extradited.

The change of heart followed a frank exchange of views on the subject between Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and his Spanish counterpart Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

When the two men met for talks last month, Zapatero insisted that the Belgian government “do everything in its power” to ensure that the country’s judicial authorities respect extradition requests from other EU countries.

Earlier this week a Belgian court ordered a further investigation into the case of two other ETA suspects currently living in Belgium.

The Spanish authorities have been asking Belgium to extradite Luis Moreno and Raquel Garcia since the early 1990s.

But the Belgian authorities have always refused Madrid’s requests.

At the end of March the couple seemed to have won their battle to stay in Belgium, when an appeals court ruled the Spanish had not produced sufficient evidence to merit their extradition.

But on Tuesday 11 May a higher chamber ruled that the case should be re-opened.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news