The Civil Guard on Wednesday arrested eight people for belonging to the so-called prisoners’ front, the only remaining operative arm of the terrorist organization ETA, as Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz described it. Among the detainees were the lawyers Arantza Zulueta and Jon Enparantza, who have previously been arrested for their alleged role within the ETA structure whose purpose is to keep incarcerated terrorists in line with the group’s ideology and objectives. The last occasion was in 2011 in relation to the uncovering of several ETA weapons caches in France.
The raids, which took place in Bilbao, Navarre and Gipuzkoa, involved a police search of Zulueta’s offices in Bilbao, the suspected center of operations to coordinate ETA’s prisoner collective.
Fernández Díaz called the operation as a strike against the “tentacle with which ETA controls inmates.”
The move comes three days after 74 former ETA inmates issued a statement in Durango backing the current initiative by serving prisoners to reject violence and adhere to Spanish penitentiary policy in order to receive sentence reductions and other benefits. Zulueta was present at the Durango meeting but police sources said Wednesday’s operation was unconnected.
ETA recently took another conciliatory step by expressing its “recognition of the suffering and multilateral damage” caused by its four-decade-long armed struggle to establish a Basque homeland in northern Spain and southern France. In October 2011, the terrorist organization announced a definitive end to violence but has yet to fully disband, as the Spanish government demands before any negotiation over ETA’s prisoner collective can be considered.