Eta planned to assassinate judge with poisoned brandy

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The Independent Online

Eta Basque separatists planned to kill one of their most hated enemies, Spain's crusading magistrate Baltasar Garzon, with a poisoned bottle of brandy sent as a gift by an ostensible admirer, it emerged this week.

The plan to assassinate one of the most indefatigable campaigners against separatist violence was revealed in documents on a memory stick seized when police arrested Eta's suspected top military commander, Jurdan Martitegi, in France in April, police sources told Spanish newspapers yesterday.

Martitegi's documents listed Judge Garzon among several prominent figures as targets for elimination, and proposed a method never previously attempted by an organisation that usually employs guns or bombs. "We propose to carry out an action using poison," it read.

The idea was as ingenious, or barmy, as that of the CIA which once proposed to kill the Cuban leader Fidel Castro with an exploding cigar. A bottle of high quality brandy or a spirit that Judge Garzon liked – although it appeared that Eta had not yet conducted any research into what his favourite tipple might be – would be sent to him by a messenger service based outside the Basque country. The person handing the package to the courier would have to adopt strict security measures, the plan noted.

The poisoned gift would be accompanied by an expensive crystal goblet, and a note from an "admirer" hailing his judicial operations against violent Basque separatists.