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Spain judge accuses Venezuela government of aiding rebel groups in assassination plot

[JURIST] A Spanish National Court [official website, in Spanish] judge on Monday accused the Venezuelan government of aiding two rebel groups in a plot to assassinate members of the Colombian government in Spain. Judge Eloy Velasco charged [indictment, PDF, in Spanish] six members of the Basque separatist group ETA [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and seven members of the Colombian rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive] with subverting the constitutional order by collaborating to assassinate Colombian officials, including President Alvaro Uribe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and his predecessor Andres Pastrana [BBC profile]. The indictment accuses Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and his administration with assisting the collaboration. Velasco found that Arturo Cubillas Fontan, former director of the Venezuelan Ministry of Agriculture, served as a key link between the groups, introducing members of ETA to FARC personal in Venezuela. A Spanish magistrate has ordered the Colombian and Venezuela governments to surrender the accused individuals [El Pais report] to Spain.

Both ETA and FARC are listed as terrorist organizations in the EU and the US. In January, a Spanish judge found that ETA attempted to assassinate [JURIST report] former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar in 2001 with a rocket launcher. In April, alleged ETA leader Jurdan Martitegi Lizaso [El Pais backgrounder, in Spanish] was arrested in France, and a Spanish judge charged [JURIST reports] him with murder for a May 2008 car bombing that killed a Spanish policeman. In 2008, Chavez denounced [JURIST report] a Colombian attack on a FARC outpost based in Ecuador as a "war crime." Colombia retaliated stating that Chavez was providing financing and that Columbia would seek to have Chavez charged [JURIST report] before the International Criminal Court [official website] for supporting the "genocide" of Colombian citizens by leftist militants.

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