Man suspected of assassination attempt on King of Spain arrested in Cambridge

Jamie Hyde 10 July 2011

Basque terrorist, Eneko Gogeaskoetxea Arronategui, believed to be behind a failed attempt on the life of King Juan Carlos of Spain 14 years ago was arrested in Cambridge on Thursday. At 8:55am, he was apprehended by police not far from the city centre at his home in Fortescue Street, Cambridge, shocking local residents.

Arronategui has been residing in Cambridge for some time under the false identity of Cyril Macq, and has been an active member of society. He was membership secretary of the local squash club for the past six years and has two young children. But Mr Macq is, in fact, thought to be a member of Basque separatist organisation ETA, whose nationalist views have lead to over 800 deaths since the 1960s. In February of last year, Arronategui’s brother was arrested in Normandy and jailed on similar charges.

The familiarity of the squash court was to be replaced by an extradition hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London for Eneko Gogeaskoetxea Arronategui later the same day. Though for the time being he will remain in custody in the UK, having stated that he will not agree to extradition, and shall appear in court in Spain via a video link on 25 July.

ETA’s plot was to target the King at the opening of the innovatively designed Guggenheim Museum on 18 October 1997 in Bilbao, Spain, where the King was due to cut the ribbon. However, days before the grand opening, Arronategui, disguised as a gardener at the Museum, along with one other member of the terrorist organisation, was asked to identify himself by police. Unable to provide acceptable identification, police attempted to arrest the imposter, resulting in one officer being shot dead. It was clear that catastrophe had been avoided when it was later revealed that flower beds had been filled with ammunition for grenade launchers.

The Spanish Interior Ministry was alerted to Arronategui’s new life in Cambridge after a Spanish national identified Arronategui at a nearby sports centre. According to the European Arrest Warrant, the Cambridge resident is wanted for armed gang participation, terrorism resulting in death, theft, forgery and possession of weapons in addition to the attempted assassination of the King.

Having successfully set up a convincing alias in a quiet area of Cambridge, police have no doubt that the member of ETA will manage to do so once again should he be released on bail.

Jamie Hyde