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Venezuela says will probe ETA training camp: Spanish sources

Venezuela has informed Spain that it will investigate allegations that members of ETA were trained in the South American country, Spanish diplomatic sources said.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Wednesday called on Venezuela to help in investigating reports that Venezuela was used as an ETA training base.

The Caracas government said it would “open an investigation” after Spain’s foreign ministry sent court documents to Venezuela Tuesday in which presumed ETA members say they were given training in Venezuela, the sources said late Wednesday.

The documents contain the statements of alleged ETA members Juan Carlos Besance Zugasti and Xavier Atristain Gorosabel, detained last month in Spain’s Basque region.

Both assert that they were “trained” in Venezuela in 2008.

They said one of their trainers was Arturo Cubillas Fontan, who Spanish authorities say is a known ETA member who has served as Latin American representative for the armed Basque separatist movement since 1999.

Also on Wednesday, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos met with Venezuela’s ambassador, Isaias Rodriguez, to tell him Spain wants “more intense cooperation and concrete and specific actions in relation” to Cubillas, who was given a senior post in the administration of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2005.

Spanish Judge Eloy Velasco, who is investigating alleged links between ETA and Colombia’s FARC rebels, has charged Cubillas is responsible for coordinating relations between the two groups.

Venezuela’s government has insisted it “is not linked in any way with any terrorist organisation, especially ETA.”

ETA is blamed for the deaths of 829 people in its four-decade campaign of bombings and shootings to force the creation of a Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France.

It is considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States.