ETA militant nabbed in Brazil mulls asylum request

18th January 2013, Comments 0 comments

A Basque separatist militant arrested here Friday on terrorism-related charges in Spain has asked about requesting political asylum, police said.

Joseba Gotzon Vizan Gonzalez, a 53-year-old member of the ETA group who had been living underground in Brazil for years, was picked up in line with an arrest warrant issued by a Madrid court for "terrorist attacks."

"He enquired about the possibility of requesting asylum or refuge on grounds that the situation he faces in Spain is of a political nature," federal police superintendent Valmir Lemos de Oliveira told reporters.

Vizan, a suspected member of an armed unit linked to ETA's Vizcaya Command, arrived in Brazil in 1996 under a false name and has since lived in Rio, police said.

He had fled Spain after authorities in 1991 dismantled the Vizcaya Command, blamed for several ETA attacks.

Spanish authorities specifically accused Vizan and other ETA militants of having planted a suction bomb on the car of Spanish policeman who was seriously injured in the subsequent explosion on January 14, 1988.

In April of that same year, he was also believed to have taken part in a failed grenade attack on a police station in the Basque town of Basauri.

A Spanish language teacher, Vizan is married to a fellow Spaniard and has a son, Rio police said.

"He led a normal life, keeping a low profile," said Lemos, who added that so far Brazilian authorities have not received an extradition request from Spain.

ETA is blamed for 829 deaths in a four-decade campaign of bombings and shootings for independence for the Basque Country of northern Spain and southwestern France.

Considered a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States, ETA announced in October 2011 that it was giving up its armed struggle.

But it has yet to formally disarm, and the Spanish government has refused to hold talks with its leaders.

© 2013 AFP

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