Spain accuses 13 of murder plot

March 1, 2010 12:00 am

, MADRID, Mar 1 – A Spanish judge on Monday charged 13 members of the Basque separatist group ETA and the Colombian rebel group FARC over a plot to assassinate Colombian officials, including President Alvaro Uribe.

Judge Eloy Velasco also charged Venezuelan government cooperated in the plot, according to a copy of his ruling.

He said a member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) had carried out surveillance on the Colombian embassy in Madrid and the routes taken by former Colombian president Andres Pastrana, who lives in Spain.

The FARC member reported that "it would not be difficult to carry out an attack on those two targets as long as they could count on the help of ETA," the ruling said.

The FARC therefore asked ETA to follow Pastrana and Noemi Sanin – the former ambassador to Spain – "with the aim of assassinating one of them when they were in Spain".

ETA were also asked to follow Vice President Francisco Santos and Antanas Mockus – the former mayor of Bogota.

"More recently" Uribe was also added to that list, the ruling said.

The judge charged six suspected members of ETA and seven members of FARC in connection with the plot.

Among those charged was ETA member Arturo Cubillas Fontan, who was named to a post in Venezuela\’s agriculture ministry in 2005 and whose Venezuelan wife, Goizeder Odriozola Lataillade, is an official in the government of President Hugo Chavez.

Fontan was in charge of ETA operations "in this part of Latin America since 1999" and "coordinated relations between FARC and ETA and the participation of ETA members in courses on explosives and urban guerrilla warfare," Velasco said.

The judge charged Fontan and two FARC members, Edgar Gustavo Navarro Morales and Victor Ramon Vargas Salazar, with conspiracy to commit terrorist murders.

Uribe has rejected a political dialogue with the FARC, which has battled the government in Bogota for 45 years.

ETA is blamed for 828 deaths in its 41-year campaign for independence in the Basque region of northern Spain and southwestern France.

Simmering tensions between Bogota and Caracas have sharpened since Colombia signed an agreement with Washington last year granting the US military access to bases on its territory for counter-drug and counter-insurgency operations.

Charging that it was the target of the deal, Venezuela retaliated by freezing ties with Colombia.


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