Eta terrorist suspect will fight extradition to Spain ‘vigorously’
AN ALLEGED terrorist with the Basque separatist group Eta has vowed to fight extradition “vigorously” after being refused bail at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Benat Ordonez is accused of being a former forger and weapons smuggler, and of having helped at least ten gunmen cross between France and Spain.
He was arrested at his flat in Leith, Edinburgh, on Friday night, after allegedly spending the past 11 years on the run since fleeing Spain via France.
The 36-year-old denies committing any crimes, either in the UK, or abroad.
But sheriff Alistair Noble remanded him in custody because of the “very great seriousness” of his alleged crimes and fears that he might flee.
He said Spain is seeking Ordonez’s return so he can be put on trial over his alleged membership of, and collaboration with, an “armed organisation”.
It is claimed that, in 2000, he was part of a group which helped move materials and weaponry from France to Spain.
It is also alleged that he was involved in gathering information on politicians and police officers, the court heard.
In France, in 2008, Ordonez was sentenced to five years in jail in his absence over an alleged conspiracy to carry out acts of terrorism.
Sheriff Noble told Ordonez that the previous conviction could be set aside and he can have a new trial if he returns.
Ordonez is originally from San Sebastian, in northern Spain.
Aamer Anwar, defending, said Ordonez is unmarried and has two young children from a previous relationship.
“He is a loving father, as well as a hard-working man,” Mr Anwar said, adding that his client had been working as a van driver.
“Mr Ordonez has made no attempt to conceal his identity. He has a National Insurance number, he has been paying council tax, paying electricity bills and gas bills.
“He has been living a normal life in the UK and he has not come to the attention of the authorities.
“He is not considered to be any threat in the UK.
“My understanding is that he has not committed any crime in the UK and, despite media speculation, he is no threat to the Olympics. In addition, he does not accept he committed any offence in France or Spain.”
Speaking outside the court, Mr Anwar said: “Mr Ordonez, who has lived under his real name in the UK since 2001, states he is not a terrorist, has not committed any crimes in the UK or abroad, nor does he pose a threat to the UK.
“He will vigorously oppose any attempt to extradite him.”
A police spokesman said: “Lothian and Borders Police can confirm Benat Atorrasagasti Ordonez has appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on two European arrest warrants originating from 2001 and 2008, which were issued in Spain and France respectively.
“His arrest was not linked in any way to the Olympic Games, in London, and at no time were the general public in the Leith area of Edinburgh, where he was residing, at risk.”
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