Basque terrorist to discover extradition fate

A convicted Basque terrorist will discover next month whether he faces extradition to Spain from Northern Ireland to face fresh charges.

The Spanish authorities have launched extradition proceedings against Inaki de Juana Chaos but a judge questioned today whether the ETA member actually faced an extraditable charge.

Chaos, 53, has been on bail since last week when he surrendered himself at Belfast’s Laganside Courthouse after Spain issued a European arrest warrant to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

He is wanted for allegedly writing a letter to be read out in his name encouraging the continuation of the armed struggle for an independent Basque state.

He has been living in west Belfast for the seven weeks following his release from prison in the summer after serving a lengthy sentence for his involvement in a bombing campaign in the 1980s during which 25 people died.

Chaos denies writing the letter or authorising anyone to speak on his behalf and his lawyers last week told Recorder Tom Burgess he would be fighting the extradition attempt.

Questions were raised whether the charge on which he is wanted carried a long enough sentence in British law to be extraditable.

At a brief hearing today Mr Burgess said he had written to the Spanish judge who issued the extradition warrant, seeking clarification on a number of issues.

He had received a detailed response which he had passed to the legal teams representing Chaos and the Spanish government and asked them to present skeleton arguments in the case on December 12.

He said: “There is still a debate over whether it is an extraditable offence.”

The Spaniard was given continuing bail.

At the previous hearing last week his barrister, Sean Devine, said the arrest warrant was “fundamentally flawed” and the Spanish authorities had made an error in law. If a prosecution did ever take place it was doomed to failure, he predicted.

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