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Neo-Nazi group sets up camp in Spanish village

THE TINY village of Los Pedriches had long been abandoned to the elements and tumbleweed blown in fromVenta del Moro. But now the houses in this remote spot in south-east Spain are being renovated and there are plans for new ones to be built.

The disturbing story behind the development is that Los Pedriches has been bought by an international neo-Nazi group, which has its headquarters in Britain, as a base for fascist and racist indoctrination and planning.

The purchase has been made with the help of a London charity, St Michael the Archangel, which falsely claims to be linked to the Roman Catholic Church but has been exposed recently as a front for an underground right-wing group, the International Third Position, which is monitored by Scotland Yard's Special Branch.

Roberto Fiore, an Italian living in London, is one of its leaders. He was sentenced to nine years in absentia in Italy for organising the fascist group NAR, reduced on appeal to three years. He was questioned about the 1980 bombing of Bologna rail station which killed 85 people, but has been cleared of involvement. Another of the group's leaders is Nick Griffin, of the British National Party.

The ITP, whose symbol is the Celtic Cross, is virulently anti-Semitic, describing Jews as "the plague" and advocating the destruction of Israel. It opposes divorce, and supports the repatriation of ethnic minorities from Europe and making homosexuality a criminal offence.

Some funds from St Michael the Archangel have been channelled to the Los Pedriches project, advertised on the Internet as a haven where "nationalists" from all over Europe can be part of a "new order" and inner-city children can be taught to stop "talking, walking and acting like blacks".

The ITP had tried in the past to buy ruined properties in Aragon, but was stopped by local authorities. A government official in Aragon recalls meeting young Britons and Spaniards carrying Nazi symbols making inquiries to buy villages near the town of Huesca.

The former owners of the properties in Los Pedriches are apparently unaware of the identity of those they sold to.

At present, three Britons and a Pole live in the project. A resident at a nearby village said: "Last Easter and summer more than 30 people came in cars. They were from different countries. They went into the woods as if they were explorers. They had a lot of money, but no one knows where they got the money from. It is very strange."

Accounts of St Michael the Archangel reveal that pounds 7,000 has been sent to the project.