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9 Arrested for Basque Affiliation

October 5, 2000

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ Police on Thursday arrested nine people suspected of providing political and financial support for the outlawed Basque separatist group ETA.

Among those arrested was Carlos Trenor Dicente, a city council member in the coastal resort of San Sebastian who represents ETA’s political wing, Euskal Herritarrok.

The ETA has claimed responsibility for 12 killings this year in a series of car bombings and shootings, eight since June.

In a press conference, Euskal Herritarrok councilors in San Sebastian denounced the arrests as ``an attempt to criminalize not just pro-Basque independence leftists but also representatives of different social groups in the city.″

More than 100 police officers took part in the pre-dawn raids throughout the Basque country and neighboring Navarra region in northern Spain on orders from the country’s top investigative magistrate, Judge Baltasar Garzon of the National Court, the Interior Ministry said.

The arrests are part of an operation code-named Black Wolf that resulted in the arrest of 20 people on Sept. 13. Authorities said the arrests decimated the political structure of EKIN, a group that describes itself as a coordinator of pro-Basque independence activities. The government accuses EKIN of being engaged in everything from raising funds for the ETA to helping plan attacks.

The Interior Ministry said the nine people arrested Thursday are linked to EKIN. It said they were involved in a civil disobedience campaign that involved the rejection of Spanish and French identity cards and the creation of a substitute civil registry.

Interior Minister Jaime Mayor Oreja said the arrests showed that the ``ETA is not only a structure of commandos, but also a political and financial plot.″

ETA declared a cease-fire in Sept. 1998 in its 32-year campaign for Basque independence, but called off the truce last December after peace talks failed.

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