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Eta suspect loses extradition fight

A suspected Basque terrorist has lost his High Court bid to halt his extradition to Spain to stand trial for terror-related offences - including the attempted assassination of the king of Spain.

Two senior judges overturned a magistrates court decision that had blocked Eneko Gogeaskoetxea Arronategui, 44, being extradited on the specific charge of attempting to kill King Juan Carlos in 1997.

Deputy Senior District Judge Daphne Wickham, sitting at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, ruled at a hearing in January that he could be extradited on a series of terror charges, but not on the attempted assassination charge after she accepted a defence submission that it was unsustainable in Spanish law.

But on Friday Lord Justice Laws and Mr Justice Griffith Williams ruled that extradition could take place on all charges.

Mr Justice Griffith Williams said: "The district judge should not have concerned herself with the issue of whether the appellant could be convicted in Spain of the offence of attempted assassination and so her decision must be quashed."

Gogeaskoetxea's QC Edward Fitzgerald told the High Court at a hearing last month that his client faced a real risk of "a flagrant denial of justice" in Spain because the accusations against him were based on the confessions of a co-defendant denied proper access to a lawyer.

Gogeaskoetxea, an alleged member of the terrorist group Eta, is wanted on eight arrest warrants. They include a series of charges such as placing grenade-launchers aimed at Madrid Barajas Airport and a police station in Spain.

Judge Wickham ruled he could be extradited on those charges but not for attempted assassination or three offences of theft of vehicles.

On Friday the High Court quashed her decision relating to the assassination attempt and vehicle thefts, but upheld her decision to allow extradition for the other offences.

The case is important because, under the international rule of specialty, a country that requests extradition is allowed to prosecute a fugitive only for the crimes for which an extradition order is granted.

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