France to allow suspected ETA leader to face trial in Spain

A French court ruled Wednesday that a suspected former leader of the ETA Basque separatist group known as "Txeroki" can be transferred to Spain to stand trial.

txeroki basque eta leader
A Spanish police handout picture from 2009 shows ETA member Mikel Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina alias "Txeroki" after his extradition order was received from France. AFP PHOTO / SPANISH POLICE HANDOUT

The Paris appeals court accepted a Spanish request for him to be tried there in September for suspected involvement in a 2002 car bombing in Bilbao, which caused property damage.

The transfer is valid for up to two months.

Also before appeals court judges were 11 European arrest warrants for “Txeroki” — the alias of Mikel Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, born in 1973.

The warrants stem from anti-terror inquiries into events between 2002 and 2008.

“Txeroki” is suspected of “belonging to a terrorist organisation” as well as planning or ordering attacks, murders or attempts at both.

While the Paris court requested more information on eight of the warrants, it accepted three of the requests.

One relates to an “attempted terrorist murder” with an explosive package in Bilbao, also in 2002, which targeted the local director of Spain’s RNE national radio.

ETA is estimated to have killed 853 people in its decades-long campaign for Basque independence, which began in 1959 under the Franco dictatorship.

The group announced a permanent ceasefire in 2011 and formally disbanded in 2018.

“Txeroki” is suspected of planning a December 2006 truck bomb attack on a Madrid airport that killed two Ecuadorian migrants and wounded several other people, also derailing a peace process that had been set up at the time.

He was arrested near France’s border with Spain in November 2008, when he was the most wanted ETA leader.

After several convictions in French courts, “Txeroki” currently stands to remain in prison until at least 2032.

He has also been sentenced to 377 years’ jail in Spain, including for 21 attempted murders.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Spanish police arrest one of Britain’s most wanted fugitives

Spanish police said Wednesday they had arrested one of Britain's most wanted fugitives, sought for his suspected role in the murder of a teenager.

Spanish police arrest one of Britain's most wanted fugitives

British police believe David Ungi, 30, was involved in the fatal shooting in 2015 in Liverpool of 18-year-old Vinny Waddington while he was riding a motorcycle.

Ungi, who is also wanted in connection with heroin trafficking, left Britain less than 24 hours after Waddington was killed, according to British authorities.

Two other men were convicted in 2016 of the 18-year-old’s murder.

Spanish police said in a statement Ungi was arrested along with three other British men in the town of Coin near the southern resort of Marbella on May 5 as they entered a gym at a shopping centre.

Officers seized a firearm from a rucksack being carried by one of the men, Spain’s National Police said in a statement.

A police search of Ungi’s residence in Coin turned up a machinegun and two other guns as well as “abundant ammunition”, 15 kilos (33 pounds) of cocaine and 19 kilos of hashish, the statement added.

Spanish police said the operation was carried out in cooperation with Britain’s National Crime Agency, which had put Ungi on its most wanted list.

The Spanish coast has long a popular bolthole for British criminals fleeing the law because they can blend easily into thriving expatriate communities.