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

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The Independent Online

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 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.