Suspected ETA chief charged over police murders: source

24th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

The suspected military chief of Basque militant group ETA was charged here on Monday in connection with the 2007 murders of two Spanish police officers in southwestern France, a court source said.

Mikel Karrera Sarobe, described by the Spanish government as ETA's supreme leader and military chief, was arrested on Thursday by French police who stormed a residential block in Bayonne, southwest France.

According to the court source, the 37-year-old's DNA matches that found in a car an ETA commando used to flee after the murders in Capbreton.

He was among four alleged ETA militants charged on Monday, with the others including his suspected deputy, Arkaitz Aguirregabiria del Barrio.

The charges include criminal association, violation of weapons laws and possession of false documents.

Sarobe and the others were due to appear before another judge on Monday evening, who was expected to order them held pending further investigations.

Sarobe is the fifth ETA military chief to be arrested in just two years as France and Spain have stepped up joint operations to root out the armed Basque separatist group.

For the past four decades ETA has been fighting a bloody campaign for an independent Basque homeland carved out from northern Spain and southwest France.

It is listed as a banned terrorist group by the European Union and has been held responsible for the deaths of 829 people during its on-again off-again campaign of gun and bomb attacks on mainly Spanish targets.

Traditionally, ETA used France as a safe rear-base for attacks on Spain, but in recent years the two EU allies have strengthened cross-border police cooperation and cracked down hard on the group.

President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed to "eradicate" the Basque group from France after a French policeman's murder in a Paris suburb in March was blamed on an ETA member.

© 2010 AFP

0 Comments To This Article