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French Judges Confirm ETA Ex-Leader’s Extradition to Spain

A top French appeals court has ruled that Josu Ternera, the former leader of Basque separatist group ETA, can be handed over to Spain, a judicial source told AFP on Wednesday.

PARIS (AFP) — A top French appeals court has ruled that Josu Ternera, the former leader of Basque separatist group ETA, can be handed over to Spain, a judicial source told AFP on Wednesday.

Ternera, arrested in France last year after years on the run, headed ETA from 1977 to 1992 and is thought to have been behind a strategy of combining car bomb and shooting attacks in Spain in the 1980s.

He is still to attend two retrials in France before any extradition to Spain, the source said.

The verdict by the Cour de Cassation, France's supreme court for criminal cases, upholds a ruling by a lower court that Ternera, 69, can be handed over under an international arrest warrant over allegations he participated in outlawed meetings in 2000.

Ternera, whose real surname is Urrutikoetxea, is also fighting extradition orders issued over alleged links to two attacks in Spain, in 1980 and 1987.

In hiding since 2002, Ternera was convicted in absentia in a French court in 2010 on charges of associating with terrorists after his fingerprints were found in an apartment known to be used by ETA operatives in Lourdes in the south of the country.

He was sentenced to seven years in prison, and given a new eight-year term in 2017 after again being convicted in absentia of participating in a terrorist organization.

After eluding police for years, he was arrested in May 2019 at a hospital in the French Alps where he was to undergo an operation.

As both prison sentences were handed down in his absence, he was able to request a retrial for both.

The first is scheduled to start in February, and the second in June.

© Agence France-Presse

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