Spain asked France to extradite former ETA terrorist leader

SPAIN has asked France to extradite a former ETA terrorist leader over the 1987 bombing of a police barracks in Zaragoza in which 11 people died, five of them children.

Josu Ternera (real name José Antonio Urrutikoetxea) was arrested on May 16 in the town of Sallanches, in the French Alps. He was held in custody initially, but conditionally released on June 19.

He had been on the run from Spanish courts since 2002.

Ternera joined ETA in the 1980s, where he became head of the group’s political apparatus. In 1989 he was arrested in Bayonne and a year later he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

After his release he was expelled by the French authorities and handed over to Spain on May 4, 1996.

The Spanish National Court prosecuted him for belonging to an armed gang, then in June 1996 he was charged with a 1986 bombing in Madrid in which 12 Guardia Civil officers died.

In 1998, he was elected a member of the Basque Parliament on the lists of the separatist Euskal Herritarrok political party.

He was summoned to testify on two occasions before the Supreme Court to clarify whether he gave the order for a car bombing on the headquarters of the Guardia Civil in Zaragoza in 1987.

He fled Spain in November 2002 on being charged with the attack and since then he has been missing. In 2018 he voiced a video announcing the disbanding of ETA.

ETA killed more than 800 people during its campaign of violence before declaring a ceasefire in 2011.

In addition to the attack on the barracks, Ternera also has cases pending for the assassination of Michelin director Luis María Hergueta in 1980, the financing of ETA, and an accusation of crimes against humanity along with four other former leaders of the organisation.

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