ETA military chief arrested in France

eta military chief arrested

One of the highest-ranking operational leaders of the Basque militant group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) has been arrested by  French police, officials said.

Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, also known as Txeroki, or Cherokee, was held in Cauterets, a town in the French Pyrenees near the Spanish border.

He is assumed to have planned a series of attacks in Spain and France after taking over Eta’s military operations in late 2003.

It is the highest-profile arrest since Javier Lopez Pena, ETA’s presumed leader, was held together with three other suspected members of the group in France in May, AFP said.

The Spanish newspaper El País said it on its Web site that guns, documents and computers had been seized from the house where Mr. Aspiazu was arrested.

Officials said the arrest was the result of a joint operation between French and Spanish police. The French Interior Ministry said in a statement that the latest arrests brought the number of ETA suspects detained on French soil this year to 31.

It is hoped that the arrest of Txeroki will help police explain events surrounding the murder of two Civil Guards, Fernando Trapero and Raúl Centeno in Capbreton, Francia a year ago. Two members of the recently disbanded Nafarroa cell have told police that the military chief of ETA was responsible for the crime.

Photo: Reuters