MADRID (Reuters) – ETA kingpin Josu Ternera, described by Spain because the Basque separatist group’s most needed fugitive, was arrested in France on Thursday after greater than 16 years in hiding from court docket orders served in each nations.
An indication is pictured on the entrance of the Hospital the place Basque separatist group’s ETA kingpin Josu Ternera was arrested in Sallanches, France Could 16, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Ternera was a long-time chief of the group that, earlier than he introduced its dissolution in 2018, is estimated to have killed greater than 850 folks throughout a 50-year guerrilla marketing campaign geared toward making a Basque state in northern Spain and southwest France.
He was sought in Spain over accusations of ordering a bomb assault on a Civil Guard barracks within the metropolis of Zaragoza in 1987 that killed 11 folks, together with six youngsters.
He was arrested within the French Alps on a separate warrant from a Paris court docket that in 2017 sentenced him in absentia to eight years in jail for membership of a terrorist group, a French judicial supply mentioned. Following his arrest, Ternera was admitted to hospital, based on El Mundo.
Spain’s appearing Inside Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska mentioned the 69-year-old, also referred to as Jose Antonio Urrutikoetxea, ought to face justice in each nations.
Ternera was detained in a carpark, Grande-Marlaska instructed reporters, in a joint Franco-Spanish operation within the alpine Haute Savoie area close to France’s border with Switzerland and Italy.
Ternera was on his option to obtain most cancers therapy on the time and was arrested within the automobile park of a hospital within the city of Sallanches, based on El Pais.
He had been a fugitive since late 2002 when, whereas he was serving as a lawmaker within the Basque regional parliament, Spain’s supreme court docket issued a global arrest warrant in opposition to him over the 1987 assault.
The Affiliation of the Basque Nation Victims of Terrorism (Covite) welcomed his arrest and mentioned it needed Ternera to be tried for all of his alleged crimes.
“At this time we begin on a path to dignity,” mentioned Covite president Consuelo Ordonez mentioned in a tweet. The group had been urgent for his arrest for years.
Grande-Marlaska mentioned Madrid would search to prosecute Ternera however “with out prejudice to the legal tasks in France”.
“He may serve (his sentence) in France, however he should be despatched to Spain quickly to be judged and later be returned to France.” He may nonetheless additionally select to serve the sentence in Spain as a Spanish citizen, the minister added.
Pilar Vallarin, who misplaced a brother and niece within the Zaragoza bombing, mentioned she was happy by the information, although she wished the arrest had occurred sooner. “We’ve lived for 31 years understanding that this man is free and relaxed,” she instructed Basque Radio SER Euskadi.
ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, or Basque Nation and Freedom) declared a ceasefire in 2011 and handed over weapons in April 2017, bringing Western Europe’s final main armed insurgency to a detailed. In Could 2018, Ternera introduced it had dismantled all its buildings.
“Franco-Spanish cooperation as soon as once more demonstrated its effectiveness,” appearing Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez mentioned in an announcement welcoming Ternera’s arrest.
Reporting by Sabela Ojea, Andres Gonzalez, Andrei Khalip; Emmanuel Jarry in Paris; Writing by Ingrid Melander; modifying by John Stonestreet