Page last updated at 18:10 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

Court bails Eta extradition man

Inaki de Juana Chaos appeared in court in Belfast - pic AFP/Getty images
Inaki de Juana Chaos appeared in court in Belfast

A convicted Eta killer wanted by a Spanish judge has been released on bail by Belfast Recorders Court.

Inaki de Juana Chaos, 53, is wanted on charges that he praised or supported terrorism in a letter read at a rally.

His lawyers told Belfast Recorder's Court a European arrest warrant issued against him was "fundamentally flawed" and that he would fight extradition.

De Chaos was ordered to post a 5,000 cash surety, observe a curfew and report daily to police by the court.

A lawyer for the Spanish authorities opposed the release of de Chaos, who was released from a Spanish jail in August after being jailed in the 1980s for 25 murders.

Interpol had been involved in efforts to locate him, and de Chaos is believed to have arrived in Ireland earlier this year.

The Spanish authorities issued a European Arrest Warrant to the Police Service of Northern Ireland last Thursday.

Extradition proceedings against de Chaos were launched before the court after he surrendered for arrest by agreement.

Protester oppsing Eta and Sinn Fein outside court - pic AP
A number of protesters demonstrated outside the court

A number of protesters, some opposing Eta and others supporting Basque independence, were waiting outside the Laganside Courts complex before de Chaos appeared.

Recorder Tom Burgess was told the arrest warrant states that on the day of his release, on 2 August, de Chaos gave an identified woman a letter to be read out in his name urging a continuation of the armed struggle.

A lawyer said this was contrary to Articles 27 and 28 of the Criminal Code in Spain.

He said the equivalent offence within the UK jurisdiction under the Terrorism Act of 2006 was the encouragement of terrorism.

There was legal argument over whether the Spanish offence carried the necessary three-year sentence required for automatic extradition.

A defence lawyer told the court his would fight extradition.

He branded the documents provided by the Spanish authorities as a "fundamentally flawed arrest warrant", and that the "Spanish Government have clearly made an error in law".

The court was told he has been in Northern Ireland for six weeks and that since then he has claimed benefits, enrolled in a local college, and that he had his wife want to build a new life in Northern Ireland.

The lawyer acting for the Spanish government opposed his release amid claims he would not turn up for a full hearing of the extradition case.

"He has been convicted of the most horrendous offences," he said.

"He is a member, certainly suspected of being a member, of the organisation known as ETA which is still as I understand it in conflict with the people of Spain.

"ETA terrorists are obviously trying to get independence for their country. It's not as if that situation has gone away."

Mr Burgess said he was minded to grant de Chaos bail because he had cooperated with court authorities.

"It seems to me at all stages the requested person has not sought to absent himself from his attendance here today," he said.

But he also said there were many legal issues to be dealt with to see if an extradition can even go ahead.

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