Europe
'Eta member' arrested in N Ireland
Police arrest suspect wanted in connection with four car bombings in Madrid.
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2010 14:35 GMT
Fermin Vila Michelena is said to be part of the 'Madrid command' linked to several bombings [Reuters]

Police in Northern Ireland have arrested a suspected member of Basque separatist group Eta, who is wanted in connection with several bombings in Spain.

Spain's interior ministry identified the man as Fermin Vila Michelana, who is on a European Union wanted list and part of the "Madrid command" linked to four car bomb attacks.

Police, who have not confirmed his identity, said they arrested the suspect on Thursday night in Belfast, Northern Ireland's capital, under a European arrest warrant seeking his return to Spain.

"A 40-year-old man has been arrested under terrorism legislation in a joint operation between the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) Serious Crime Branch and Spanish police," a police spokesman said.

Eta campaign

Spanish police are expected to travel to Northern Ireland to question the detained man.

Michelana is said to have had long-term links to Eta, and had first been arrested in 1989.

Eta's violent campaign to carve out an independent Basque state in northeast Spain and southwest France has resulted in more than 800 deaths since the late 1960s.

The group's leaders have maintained close links with the outlawed Irish Republican Army (IRA) and its sister Sinn Fein party.

But while Sinn Fein today helps lead Northern Ireland's government following the IRA disarmament in 2005, an Eta cease-fire in 2006 soon crumbled, leaving its political wing, Batasuna, banned in Spain.

Source:
Agencies
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