Alleged ETA member found living in Leith to be extradited to France

A MAN held on suspicion of being a member of the Basque separatist group ETA is set to be extradited to France after a warrant was granted at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

• Ordonez had been living in Leith undetected since 2001

• French court sentenced Ordonez to 5 years imprisonment in his absence in 2008

• Alleged ETA member to apply to be retried in France

Benat Atorrasagasti Ordonez, 36, was arrested after police swooped on his home in Sloan Street, Leith, in July and has remained in custody while fighting extradition requests.

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Last year two European Arrest Warrants were issued by France and Spain seeking his extradition. The Spanish warrant accuses Ordonez of being a member of ETA, moving materials and men from France to Spain and gathering information on politicians and police officers.

At a hearing in Edinburgh Sheriff Court at the beginning of December, defence counsel, Mungo Bovey QC, told Sheriff Alastair Noble that his client would not oppose his return to France. The French authorities had indicated that if he returned, he could apply for a new trial. The case was continued until today.

Ordonez was sentenced to five years imprisonment, in his absence, at a court in France in 2008 on charges of criminal conspiracy, carrying out acts of terrorism and recruiting members for ETA.

He came to Scotland under his own name in 2001. Working as a driver for a wine importing company, he had two children with a former partner and now has a new partner. During his time in Scotland he never came to the attention of the authorities.

Granting the warrant that Ordonez be extradited to France, Sheriff Noble said it was accepted that Ordonez had not had any indication of the trial there and asked Fiscal Depute, Ruth Lunny, if there was any further information on the Spanish warrant.

She told him that the Crown were continuing proceedings in respect of the Spanish warrant within the 21 day period before Ordonez would be extradited. Mr Bovey told Sheriff Noble: “In relation to the French warrant I have no motion to make. In respect of the Spanish warrant, I invite you to continue the matter for two weeks.

“Our position is that we are a little surprised by the proposal to consider the Spanish warrant at this stage. I had no indication before this and therefore had taken no instructions in regard to this”.

The QC added that the defence team had been focused on the French warrant and, if the Spanish warrant was to be considered, there was a great deal of work, which had not been undertaken, to be done.

Sheriff Noble continued the hearing until January 21. If the issue of the Spanish warrant is not resolved, Ordonez’ extradition to France would be put on hold until it is.