FILE PHOTO: Veteran ETA member Jose Antonio Urrutikoetxea, “Josu Ternera”, smiles after being released from prison January 14, 2000/File Photo
MADRID (Reuters) – Josu Ternera, one of ETA’s most high-profile leaders and accused by Spanish authorities of taking part in a 1987 attack by the Basque separatist group that killed 11 people, has been detained in France, the Spanish government said.
Ternera, 69, also known as Antonio Urrutikoetxea, was held in the Haute Savoie region in a joint Franco-Spanish operation, the interior ministry said in a statement.
ETA, whose dissolution Ternera announced last year, bombed a Civil Guard police barracks in the city of Zaragoza on December 11, 1987, killing 11 people including five children of Civil Guard officers.
Spain’s Supreme Court issued an international arrest warrant against Ternera in 2002 over his alleged involvement in that attack.
Acting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez welcomed his arrest. “Franco-Spanish cooperation once again demonstrated its effectiveness,” he said in a statement.
ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, or Basque Country and Freedom) announced in April 2018 that it had completely dismantled all its structures, ending a 50-year guerrilla campaign.
It declared a ceasefire in 2011 and handed over weapons in April 2017, bringing Western Europe’s last major armed insurgency to a close.
Reporting by Madrid and Paris bureaux; Writing by Ingrid Melander; editing by John Stonestreet