Police arrest man in N.Ireland in 'Basque separatist probe'

25th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Police in Northern Ireland said they arrested a man under terrorism legislation in a joint operation with Spanish police, in what is understood to be an investigation into Basque separatist activities.

The suspect was detained in the centre of Belfast on Thursday, said a spokesman from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

"A 40-year-old man has this evening been arrested under terrorism legislation in a joint operation between the PSNI serious crime branch and Spanish police," he said.

He has been taken to Antrim police station, said the spokesman.

Spanish public radio identified the man as Fermin Vila Michelena, a suspected member of the Basque separatist group ETA.

It said he is wanted by Spanish authorities for a number of attacks including a car bomb blast that killed a Spanish policeman in Madrid in July 2001.

Since December 2001 he has been on a European Union list of the "most wanted" terrorists, the radio said.

His arrest follows the disappearance in Northern Ireland earlier this year of Jose Ignacio de Juana Chaos, a former senior ETA member who served 20 years for the killing of 25 people in 11 attacks and who is wanted in Spain on charges of glorifying terrorism.

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.

© 2010 AFP

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