Secret life of Cambridge suspect accused of plot to kill Spain's king

A suspected Basque terrorist accused of trying to assassinate the King of Spain appeared in court yesterday after a police swoop on his Cambridgeshire home.

Eneko Gogeaskoetxea, 44, was arrested at 8.55am yesterday in an armed raid on a rented house in Cambridge where he had lived "for several years" under the alias Cyril Macq.

Neighbours described the married father-of-two as a "regular dad" and committed member of Cambridge Squash Club, where he served as club secretary. But the European warrant for his arrest paints a different picture – that of a hard-line member of Basque separatist group Eta who was behind a botched attempt to kill King Carlos of Spain at Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum in 1997.

Westminster Magistrates Court yesterday heard how the plot was to launch long-range grenade launchers at the king but he was spotted by police in the museum's gardens filling a window box with ammunition.

When they moved in to arrest him, the explosives expert pulled out a hand gun and shot dead a policeman before engaging officers in a shoot-out through the streets of Bilbao.

He allegedly used the gun to hijack a lorry and two cars before escaping on the Spanish highway. His cousin Kepa Arronategi, who was keeping watch in a car with Gogeaskoetxea's brother Ibon, was arrested at the scene. Ibon was arrested in France last year and are both serving lengthy prison terms in Spain.

Wearing a light blue T-shirt, Gogeaskoetxea appeared at the extradition hearing flanked by three security guards, with two more positioned at the doors of the court.

Asked if he consented to the extradition request he replied in English: "I do not."

James Stansfeld, on behalf of the Spanish authorities, said he had obtained false documents that let him live in the UK under a false identity.

The court heard that Gogeaskoetxea is wanted for eight offences: membership of terrorist organisation Eta; the attempted assassination of the king of Spain; possession of ammunition; the murder of a police officer; three counts of theft of vehicles; and forgery of public documents, namely the transferring of licence plates.

Living in Cambridge, Gogeaskoetxea provided IT support to the online retailer Play.com. Yesterday police hunted for clues at his workplace.

His arrest, after a long-term surveillance operation by Cambridgeshire and the Metropolitan police forces, was met with shock by friends and neighbours in the sleepy Arbury estate in Cambridge.

Neville Doe, 40, who lives two doors away, said he often chatted with his neighbour. "He is a very quietly spoken and polite man," said Mr Doe. "He just seemed like a regular dad."

Arronategui's wife, named locally as Maria Chaprillero, was seen every morning walking their two children to Arbury Primary School.

Steve Casey, chairman at Cambridge Squash Club, said: "Cyril has been the membership secretary at our squash club for seven years. I'm blown away by the news. He never spoke about politics. He was just a great squash player."

He will reappear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 25 July.

News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz