Basque “terrorist” smiles at friends and family from the dock

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A MAN accused of being one of Europe’s most dangerous terrorists beamed at his friends from the dock of a Scottish court today.

Benat Atorrasagasti Ordonez, 36, is wanted in two European countries over terrorism offences and is fighting extradition.

He is an alleged member of the ETA, a Basque seperatist terrorist group, and is wanted over claims he helped move terrorist weapons and materials between France and Spain.

Hundreds died in ETA's struggle for Basque independence. Picture: Joxemai

 

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court today (mon) it was decided the court would deal with a French arrest warrant first.

Around 30 friends and family of Mr Ordonez attended the hearing, packing out the public gallery in Sheriff Alistair Noble’s court.

Mr Ordonez, who was living in the Leith area of Edinburgh until his arrest this year, smiled and nodded at friends and family.

Wearing a blue hooded tracksuit and gray trousers, he appeared relaxed in the dock.

Several people in the public gallery shouted “guapo” – hailing him as good looking– as he left the court, prompting another smile from Mr Ordonez.

Mr Ordonez was convicted in his absence in France in 2008 for criminal conspiracy and carrying out acts of terrorism.

He was sentenced to five years in jail by the court.

He is said to have been living in Scotland for several years.

He is also wanted in Spain for claims he is a member of the ETA terrorist group, which is responsible for a number of bombings and assassinations in the country for decades.

It is also alleged he was involved in moving materials, weaponry and men from France into Spain for the puposes of terrorism, and gathering details about politicians and police.

He denies any wrongdoing in either country.

Mr Ordonez’s lawyer, Mungo Bovie QC, told the court prosecutors has agreed to deal with the French arrest warrant first.

He said: “Meetings were held between the two parties, agreement was reached as to the way forward.”

Mr Ordonez will face an extradition hearing in December, and another procedural hearing in December.

Sheriff Noble said: “The French European Arrest Warrant will be considered first. I efer consideration of the Spanish until after the French one has been dealt with.”

Fiscal depute Ruth Lunny said she had no objection to the move.

Mr Ordonez was arrested in Edinburgh in July after spending more than ten years on the run.

Originally from San Sebastian in northern Spain, he was captured in Leith by armed police on Friday 13 July following a joint operation between Lothian and Borders Police and Spain’s Civil Guard.

Atorrasagasti has been on Spain’s most-wanted list since 2008 over claims he was involved in moving materials, weaponry and gunmen from France to Spain for the purposes of terrorism and in gathering details about politicians and police.

Since arriving in Scotland, the Spaniard has been lying low in Leith working as a van driver for Livingston Wine Importers.

A spokesman for the company said at the time of his arrest: “We’re all shocked at what has happened. We are not going to comment on anything while the judicial process is ongoing.”

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