ETA detainees confess to Barajas bomb

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Terrorist group planned attack in mid-ceasefire, says minister.

10 January 2008

MADRID - Two ETA members arrested in the Basque Country on Sunday have confessed to carrying out the 2006 bombing of a parking garage at Madrid's Barajas airport in which two people were killed, authorities said yesterday.

Igor Portu and Martín Sarasola, who were taken into custody by a Civil Guard anti-terrorism unit near the Basque town of Mondragón, formed part of ETA's most prolific terrorist cell in recent years, Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba told reporters in a press conference yesterday.

"These are people with a long track record in the group," the minister said, noting that since 2001 they had been operating alongside two other ETA members who are currently being hunted by police.

In a rare confession, the suspects told Civil Guard officers that together with a third cell member, they perpetrated the Barajas bombing on 30 December 2006, that claimed the lives of Ecuadorian nationals Diego Armando Estacio Sivisapa, 19, and Carlos Alonso Palate, 35. The attack, they said, had been ordered by ETA's leadership in the midst of a ceasefire in June 2006, suggesting that the group never had any real intention of ending its campaign of separatist violence.

ETA called the ceasefire in March 2006, leading the government to enter into peace talks the following summer. Having already undermined the truce with the airport bombing, ETA formally ended it in June 2007.

Rubalcaba said Sarasola also confessed that the cell had been planning a large attack in the near future against the Azca business complex in downtown Madrid. Documents seized from the suspects' homes led to the discovery of stockpiles of bomb-making equipment buried in rural areas of Navarre and neighbouring Huesca earlier this week. Portu and Sarasola are also allegedly responsible for the detonation of a car bomb in a field in Castellón, Valencia in August last year that caused no injuries.

Rubalcaba rejected allegations that the suspects had been mistreated, putting injuries sustained by Portu, who is currently in intensive care in hospital, and Sarasola down to them resisting arrest.

[Copyright EL PAÍS / Ángeles Espinosa / Luís Rodríguez Aizpeolea/ Francisco Mercado 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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