Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Spain terror suspect 'lived in UK'

King Juan Carlos of Spain was the target of an alleged assassination plot
King Juan Carlos of Spain was the target of an alleged assassination plot

A suspected terrorist wanted in Spain for an alleged attempt to kill the country's king was living in the UK under a false name, a court has heard.

Eneko Gogeaskoetxea has been arrested in Cambridge where he was living under the name Cyril Macq, City of Westminster Magistrates' Court heard. Scotland Yard and Cambridgeshire Police arrested him at a property in the university city at 8.55am following what they called an "intelligence-led" operation.

Counter-terrorism police carried out searches of Gogeaskoetxea's house and two businesses in Cambridge. The Spanish interior ministry said police were tipped off to the Cambridge address after a Spanish national spotted Gogeaskoetxea at a sports club nearby.He is believed to have been living in Cambridge with his family for some time.

Gogeaskoetxea, 44, told the court he would fight attempts to extradite him over a string of alleged offences which include membership of Basque separatist group Eta, the attempted assassination of King Juan Carlos in October 1997, and the murder of a police officer. Gogeaskoetxea appeared in the dock flanked by three security guards with two more positioned at the doors of the court. Asked if he consented to the extradition request, he replied in English: "I do not."

Setting out the reasons why bail should not be granted, James Stansfeld, on behalf of the Spanish authorities, said: "The requested person was stopped whilst in the Guggenheim (museum) gardens filling garden window boxes with ammunition for grenade launchers. They were stopped by the police. To affect his escape the police officer who stopped them was shot and killed."

The court heard as he fled the scene Gogeaskoetxea hijacked three different cars from members of the public. Mr Stansfeld said: "Those facts clearly show that this gentleman will do anything to evade capture." He also said Gogeaskoetxea had obtained identification to allow him to live under a false name. He said: "If he were to be released on bail he would be able to obtain a new false identity. His alleged involvement with the Eta terrorist organisation would certainly provide him with the means and indeed the contacts to hide from the authorities in this jurisdiction."

Katrina Orme, defending, made no application for bail. Miss Orme said the reasons her client would fight extradition included "human rights issues in respect of a fair trial" and "potential issues about political motivation in terms of the membership of the organisation concerned".

But District Judge John Zani said there were "substantial grounds" for believing he would not voluntarily return to custody. The judge told Gogeaskoetxea, who was wearing a blue Animal T-shirt and sporting a small beard, that he will next appear in court by video link on July 25.

The court heard the European arrest warrant stated that Gogeaskoetxea is wanted for eight offences: membership of terrorist organisation Eta; the attempted assassination of the king of Spain; possession of ammunition; the murder of a police officer; three counts of theft of vehicles; and forgery of public documents, namely the transferring of licence plates.

His brother Ibon Gogeaskoetxea, accused of being an Eta leader, was arrested in February last year in Normandy, France, and jailed. He was also accused of involvement in the alleged assassination attempt in Bilbao, where the king was due to open the museum. The plot was foiled several days before the opening when police asked two men disguised as gardeners to identify themselves.

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