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British police on Friday arrested an ETA fugitive who fled Spain after a legal bungle set him free from a 2 700-year jail sentence for killing 22 people, officials said.
British officers nabbed Antonio Troitino Arranz, 55-year-old member of the armed Basque separatist group, in a pre-dawn raid on a home in the London, the Spanish and British authorities said.
Troitino, a member in the 1980s of ETA's Madrid unit, which carried out some of the group's bloodiest attacks, had been on the run for more than a year.
One of the unit's most notorious acts was a car bomb attack on a police bus in Madrid on July 14, 1986, which killed 12 officers and wounded another 51 people.
“Troitino was the one who set off the bomb,” Spain's Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Troitino was captured in the London district of Hounslow along with 39-year-old Ignacio Lerin Sanchez, wanted on suspicion of membership of ETA and possession of explosives.
“The men have been taken to a central London police station where they remain in custody,” said a statement by Scotland Yard.
Troitino was originally arrested in 1987 and sentenced to more than 2 700 years for 22 killings even though the maximum stay in prison in Spain is 30 years.
He was freed on April 13 last year after requesting that the six years he had spent in prison before sentencing be discounted from his term.
Spain's National Court subtracted those six years from the 30-year maximum jail time instead of the actual 2 700-year sentence because the law was not clear on the matter.
But after an appeal by prosecutors, the court agreed a week later that it had erred and the six years should have been discounted from the actual sentence. By then, however, Troitino could not be found.
ETA renounced violence on October 20, 2011 but has not bowed to Spanish demands that it disarm and disband.
Blamed for more than 800 killings in four decades of a campaign to create a Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France, the group has not committed an attack on Spanish soil since August 2009. - Sapa-AFP