|Txeroki (Photo: RTVE)|
ETA’s military chief and his partner were awoken by French police early on Monday morning. They found arms and fake documents in the house they were living in. Police said they had been following Aspiazu for a month.
Mr Garikoitz Aspiazu is accused of murdering two policemen and of ordering a car bomb attack at Madrid’s Barajas Airport in 2006 which killed two men. The Spanish authorities also suspect that he took part in several ETA bombings between 2001 and 2002, including the killing of a judge. ETA broke their ceasefire in 2007 after talks with the Spanish government broke down. Aspiazu is said to have been key in the decision to return to violence Mr Garikoitz Aspiazu’s arrest follows the capture of ETA’s political leader Javier Lopez Pena in May. French President, Nicholas Sarkozy, congratulated French police for the successful operation and praised the collaboration between French and Spanish authorities. ETA has been carrying out violent actions against Spanish authorities for 40 years demanding an independent Basque state be created. Over 800 people have been victims of the armed group’s bombings.
Earlier arrests of ETA leaders
"ETA has been dealt a decisive blow" – that’s what the headlines say. Will it be true this time?
Nearly every detainee over the past 10 years has been described as one of the top ETA leaders, and nearly every arrest is called ‘a decisive blow to ETA’. The list is not exhaustive, more arrests were made.
- 9 Mar 1999 – Jose Javier Arizcuren-Ruiz (‘Kantauri’) arrested in Paris, ‘ETA’s suspected military leader’.
- 10 Mar 1999 – Nine members of ETA’s arrested ‘which broke up the dangerous Donosti Commando’.
- 11 Jan 2001 – ‘Most wanted’ ETA terrorist arrested, ‘supposedly a member of the violent Donosti Commando’
- 24 Aug 2001 – Six ETA suspects arrested in Spain. ‘supposedly forming the Barcelona Commando’, dealing ‘a sensitive blow to ETA infrastructure’.
- 24 Sep 2001 – French police arrest Oyarzabal Txarpetegui, nicknamed Balza. ‘Supposedly the head of ETA’s logistics.’
- 13 Oct 2001 – Thirteen suspected ETA members arrested in Spain
- 9 Dec 2003 – Gorka Palacios Alday ‘supposedly the leader of military operations’
- 4 Oct 2004 – Mikel Albisu Iriarte, alias "Mikel Antza" arrested. ‘assumed to be ETA’s political chief’.
- 3 Oct 2005 – French police arrest Harriet Aguirre (‘the second most senior member of ETA’) and Idoia Mendizabal.
- 1 Sep 2007 – Four suspected ETA members arrested near Toulouse, France. ‘Assumed to belong to the ETA Command Centre’.
- 21 May 2008 – Francisco Javier Lopez Peña ‘Thierry’, ‘supposedly heading ETA’s political wing’.
- 22 July 2008 – Spanish police arrest Arkaitz Goikoetxea, ‘leader of ETA’s most active cell, Vizkaya’.
- 16 Nov 2008 – Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, alias Txeroki is arrested in the French Pyrenees. He is ‘ETA’s suspected military leader’.