Spanish paper says ETA selling arms

10th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

A leading Spanish newspaper said Monday armed Basque separatist group ETA was selling weapons to boost revenue but the report could not be confirmed independently.

Spanish security forces had "well-founded evidence" that ETA was selling arms on the black market, said the conservative daily ABC, which has a reputation of being well informed on ETA activities.

An official at the interior ministry said she could not confirm or deny the report.

The sales of weapons to organised crime was aimed at compensating for a loss of income since ETA stopped extorting money from businesses through a so-called revolutionary tax in January, ABC said.

Analysts told AFP they believed ETA had other sources of income.

"If an organisation of this type needs money they can resolve the problem through other means," said ETA specialist Jose Luis Orella, director of the history of thought department at Madrid's University San Pablo CEU.

"ETA has always been more into the business of selling drugs," the analyst said.

Another expert, terrorism financing professor Mikel Buesa at the Complutense University in Madrid, said ETA could also find funds by diverting finances from local authorities where friendly political parties held power.

Weakened by a series of security blows and by a lack of popular support for more bombings and shootings, ETA declared a unilateral ceasefire in January after more than four decades of violence.

Held responsible for 829 deaths in its battle to carve out an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France, ETA has not yet taken the two crucial steps demanded by Madrid: the unconditional surrender of arms and the disbanding of the organisation forever.

© 2011 AFP

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