Suspected ETA militants charged in France

PARIS — Two suspected ETA militants arrested in France earlier this week have been charged with conspiracy to collaborate with a terrorist organisation, a legal official said Saturday.

Police apprehended 30-year-old Aitor Elizaran in a car park at the wheel of a stolen car in the Brittany seaside town of Carnac on October 19, along with a woman suspect, 32-year-old Oihana Sanvicente.

Both were carrying loaded weapons at the time and have also been charged with firearms offences, possession of false documents, and car theft, the official said.

The pair had been renting a studio at the holiday resort where police uncovered handguns, computer equipment and fake Italian, Portuguese and Spanish identity papers. The weapons were the same used in a robbery blamed on ETA in Vauvert, southern France in 2006.

Spain’s Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba described Elizaran on Monday as the group’s “political chief…in charge of transmitting ETA instructions to radical leftist separatists” in the Spanish Basque region.

Since the start of this year, some 30 ETA suspects have been arrested in France, which is used as a rear base by ETA militants to rearm and plan attacks across the border.

ETA is held responsible for 828 deaths in a 41-year campaign for independence in the Basque region of northern Spain and southwestern France.

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