Spanish police have arrested eight people, including two lawyers, in an operation against an outlawed youth organisation linked to the armed separatist group ETA, the interior ministry said Thursday.
Two hundred national police officers took part in the operation, the third against the clandestine Segi organization which the government accuses of being an ETA “recruiting ground”, in just over a year, it said in a statement.
“The detentions once again prevent ETA’s youth organistion from rebuilding following several recent police operations,” the interior ministry said.
Police arrested six suspected leaders of Segi, aged between 23 and 26, in the northern cities of Bilbao, Pamplona and Vitoria.
The six had taken the place of leaders of the group detained in previous police raids, they added.
They also detained two lawyers, aged 31 and 32, who had advised jailed Segi leaders “on measures to impede the investigation and avoid prosecution.”
One lawyer was detained in Lanzarote in Spain’s Canary Islands and the other in the town of Aranjuez located some 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Madrid.
The police investigation revealed the two may be part of the an ETA group dedicated to controlling jailed members of the outfit called H-ALBOKA, the interior ministry said.
Police searched seven homes and a hotel as part of the operation, seizing an undisclosed amount of money as well as documents and computer records.
Spanish police accuse Segi and other radical Basque youth groups of urban unrest, throwing Molotov cocktails at symbols of Spain such as the post office, banks and political party offices.
The authorities consider then to be support groups for ETA, which is blamed for the deaths of 829 people in more than 40 years of bombing and shooting for a homeland independent of Spain.
In 2007 Spain’s Supreme Court declared Segi to be a terrorist group over its suspected ties to ETA.
Spanish police arrested 14 suspected members of Segi in October and in November 2009 they arrested another 36 suspected members of the group.
“We are not going to allow ETA to rebuild its youth team,” Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said following the October arrests.
“Every time ETA rebuilds its youth team the police will take action and that youth team will never make it to the main team. That must be clear,” he added.