A Basque terrorist who shot dead a police officer during a plot to assassinate the Spanish King Juan Carlos, has been jailed for 92 years after being identified in a Cambridge squash club. Eneko Gogeaskoetxea Arronategui was a member of Basque separatist group ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna – which roughly translates to Basque Country and Freedom) who plotted to murder then Kin Carlos during the opening of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao on 18 October 1997.
Gogeaskoetxea was apprehended after being recognised by a Spanish citizen at a squash club in Cambridge in 2011. He had been living in the UK as a Frenchman called Cyril Macq. The 49-year-old was extradited from Britain in 2012 after the High Court rejected an appeal.
At the time, Gogeaskoetxea's lawyers had said that accusations against him were based on the confessions of another defendant who was said to have been denied proper access to a lawyer. They also claimed Gogeaskoetxea would be denied justice in Spain because of his alleged crimes.
The National Court heard how Spanish Police foiled the plot just five days before the king's visit to Bilbao, when officers approached Gogeaskoetxea and another ETA member as they attempted to hide grenades in flower pots outside the modern art museum. Gogeaskoetxea, who had joined the ETA, along with his brothers Ibon and Kepa, shot dead policeman Jose Maria Aguirre Larraona at close range during a firefight.
Gogeaskoetxea, from Guernica 15 miles east of Bilbao, was sentenced to 30 years for the murder of Larraona, 15 years for conspiring against the monarchy, and 47 years for several other crimes related to the assassination attempt, including forgery of public documents and possessing weapons.
Under Spanish law, a convicted criminal can only serve 40 years in prison, with the only exception being if they are convicted of carrying out a deadly terrorist attack.
ETA declared a "definitive end to armed activity" in 2011, but it has not yet to formally disband or disarm. Since its creation in 1959, the group has been accused of more than 800 killings during its attempt to create an independent Basque homeland between Spain and France.