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Ex-leader of Basque group ETA dies in France

Saturday - 3/30/2013, 3:13pm  ET

FILE - In this May 21, 2008 file picture, Javier Lopez Pena, also known as "Thierry", one of the highest-ranking members of the armed Basque group ETA , leaves the house where Spanish and French authorities arrested him in Bordeaux, southwestern France in 2008. Lopez Pena, died early Saturday, March 30, 2013 in a hospital in France where he was receiving treatment while serving a prison sentence, the Interior Ministry says. Lopez, alias Thierry, 54, was driven from prison to hospital on March 11 suffering from a heart complaint but died early Saturday from a stroke, a ministry spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with its security rules. (AP Photo/Bob Edme, file)

HAROLD HECKLE
Associated Press

MADRID (AP) -- A former leader of armed Basque separatist group ETA died Saturday in a French hospital where he was receiving treatment while serving a prison sentence, officials said.

The 54-year-old Francisco Xabier Lopez Pena, alias Thierry, was taken from prison to a hospital on March 11, with heart trouble, and he died early Saturday from a stroke, an Interior Ministry spokesman said on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to give his name.

The French Justice Ministry confirmed that Lopez had died, without elaborating.

Lopez was arrested in the southern French city of Bordeaux in 2008, and documents seized during his capture led to dozens of arrests of other active ETA members.

ETA has killed more than 825 people since the late 1960s in its violent campaign for an independent state, but announced a permanent cease-fire in January 2011 following waves of arrests.


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