A Scottish court on Monday granted a request to extradite an alleged member of the Basque separatist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) [Global Security backgrounder; JURIST news archive] to France. Benat Atorrasagasti Ordonez, who had relocated to Scotland in 2001, was sentenced in absentia [BBC report] by a French court in 2008 to five years imprisonment on charges of criminal conspiracy, carrying out acts of terrorism, and recruiting and training members for ETA. Sheriff Alastair Noble of the Edinburgh Sheriff Court [official website] granted [BBC report] the extradition at a hearing on Monday. Ordonez was arrested [JURIST report] in July and has remained in custody of Scottish authorities since. Ordonez faces an additional extradition demand from Spain, which has accused him of being a member of ETA as well as moving men and supplies between France and Spain and gathering reconnaissance on police officers and politicians. Ordonez denies that he is a terrorist and had fought a five-month court battle against both extradition claims before ending his opposition of the French warrant in December. According to the BBC, French authorities have stated that Ordonez can apply for a new trial once he returns to France.
Last year saw a large number of arrests of suspected ETA members throughout Europe. In October the French police [official website, in French] and the Spanish Civil Guard [official website, in Spanish] arrested [JURIST report] Isaskun Lesaka, one of the three suspected leaders of ETA. In 2011 a Spanish court sentenced [JURIST report] a former military leader for the group to 105 years in prison for ordering the murder of a Socialist political leader and his bodyguard. Two months earlier a group of ETA prisoners released a statement [JURIST report] calling for the ETA to stop violence and commit to a truce. In 2010 the Spanish government also accused the Venezuelan government [JURIST report] of aiding ETA members in a plot to kill Colombian government officials in Spain. A Spanish judge also found earlier that year that a member of ETA had attempted three times [JURIST report] to kill Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar in 2001.