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France hands former ETA leader over to Spain

French authorities Wednesday handed a former leader of Basque separatist group ETA over to Spanish counterparts a week after her release from a French jail term, a Spanish judicial source said.

Maria Soledad Iparraguirre Guenechea, alias “Anboto,” faces questioning in Spain notably on an alleged role in the 1995 killing of a Spanish soldier, the source said.

“They handed her over today at lunchtime,” a spokesman for Spain’s national court in Madrid told AFP.

“Anboto” obtained early release on August 28 from a 20-year jail sentence which France handed down in 2010 for theft, extortion and other crimes that allowed ETA to commit attacks.

She was handed over to Spain on a European warrant in connection with the killing of Luciano Cortizo Alonso in a car bomb attack in the northern city of Leon.

The court spokesman said she was being interviewed by a judge Wednesday evening.

Spain reopened its case into the murder of Alonso in 2015 after finding there was sufficient evidence for a prosecution of “Anboto”.

France last January released the 58-year-old’s partner Mikel Albisu Iriarte, alias “Antza,” who had likewise been jailed for 20 years for his own ETA activities.

The pair were arrested in France in 2004 along with accomplices after a major operation the Spanish government at the time described as an historic blow against ETA.

“Antza,” who returned to Spain a free man facing no other charges, is the son of a founder of ETA, which is estimated to have killed 853 people in its decades-long campaign for Basque independence.

The group announced a permanent ceasefire in 2011 and formally disbanded last year.

Recent days have seen France hand over, albeit temporarily, two other former senior ETA figures — Mikel Kabikoitz Carrera Sarobe, alias “Ata”, and Mikel Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, alias “Txeroki”.

“Txeroki” faces trial over the 2001 assassination of judge Jose María Lidon in 2001 while “Ata” stands accused of coordinating the sending of explosives and arms to a group base in Portugal.

After Spanish authorities have processed their cases they will return to complete ongoing jail terms in France.