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ETA leader gets 30 years

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Latest update : 2008-02-13

Ibon Fernandez Iradi, a leader of the Basque separatist militant group ETA, was sentenced to 30 years in jail by the Paris criminal court on Wednesday, following the 2001 shooting of a French police officer.

A former military commander of Spain's Basque separatist group ETA was handed a 30-year jail sentence Wednesday for the near-fatal shooting of a French gendarme in 2001.
  
Ibon Fernandez Iradi, 36, who goes by the nom de guerre "Susper," was arrested in 2003 after escaping from a French jail and spending a year on the run. He is also accused of involvement in several deadly attacks in Spain.
  
Iradi's accomplice in the shooting, Antonio Agustin Figal Arranz, 35, was handed a 10-year jail sentence by the Paris criminal court.
  
First arrested in December 2002, "Susper" managed to escape from a police cell in the southwestern French city of Bayonne via a skylight. He was recaptured at Mont-de-Marsan, inland from Bayonne, a year later.
  
Doctors told the court it was a "miracle" that the gendarme, who was shot with eight bullets including four in the chest, survived the attack.
  
During his seven-day trial for attempted murder, "Susper" acknowledged he had shot the gendarme, but said he fired in panic thinking the officer was about to draw his own weapon.
  
Prosecutor Christophe Teissier dismissed his version of events as "totally unrealistic", saying the court should not "endorse it for a second".
  
"Fernandez Iradi never once lost his head, and ... this shows he was capable of anything to avoid arrest," he said.
  
At the time of his arrest, "Susper" was one of the most wanted men in both France and Spain.
  
According to Madrid, he was head of recruitment for ETA, which is blamed for more than 800 deaths in its four-decade campaign for an independent Basque state in northern Spain and southwestern France, before becoming its military leader.
  
Since ETA called off a ceasefire last June the Spanish authorities have taken a hard line against the organistion, arresting suspected members of the group and its banned political wing Batasuna.

Date created : 2008-02-13

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