Arrest of five ETA suspects in France dimissed as “political”

JAVIER ETXEZARRETA

Basque EH Bildu spokesman, former convicted ETA member Arnaldo Otegi gives a press conference in San Sebastian, Basque Country, northern Spain, 18 December 2016. Otegi said on 18 December that the aim of the police operations in Spain and France, such as the one developed in Louhossoa (France) is 'preventing' the disarmament of ETA from 'being possible'. French and Spanish police on 16 December have arrested five people following the discovery of a suspected weapons cache of the militant Basque separatist group Eta.

Human rights activists call the arrests “political


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French and Spanish police forces have made five arrests over the weekend in relation to a weapons’ cache belonging to the Basque terrorist group ETA.

arrests

The cache included fire arms, explosives and ammunition, DPA reports. The suspects were transferred to Paris for questioning.

The cache was discovered in Louhossoa, in southern France, officials said.

Since 2011, ETA declared a ceasefire that has been overall upheld. In 2014 the group stated that its weapons were “beyond use.” But, the Spanish government refuses any negotiation. The main demands put forward by ETA relate to improving prison conditions or releasing some of its 350 arrested members. In exchange, the group offers further decommissioning  and complete dissolution.

“political”

French human rights lawyer Michel Tubiana told AFP that the suspects intended to destroy the weapons and hand them over to authorities. Originally, she intended to be present during the intended decommissioning of the weapons. However, the French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said on Saturday that “nobody has the right to proclaim themselves a destroyer of arms.”

Tubiana called the arrests “political.” Among those arrested is the head of an ecologist group and a journalist.

Speaking in San Sebastian, in the Basque Country, EH Bildu spokesman and former convicted ETA member Arnaldo Otegi told AP on Saturday that French and Spanish authorities are in effect ‘preventing’ the disarmament.

ETA was founded in 1959 during the reign of the dictator General Franco, seeking independence. However, the organization continued to operate for years after Spain’s transition to democracy.

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