ETA terrorist "Txapote" gets 19 years for murder attempt

Gaztelu setenced for his role in the assassination attempt in 2000 of a Basque regional government commissioner

One of ETA's top military commanders, Javier García Gaztelu, better known as "Txapote," was sentenced on Wednesday to 19 years in prison for his role in the assassination attempt in 2000 of a Basque regional government commissioner.

The High Court also handed down similar sentences to three other members of the Txapote's so-called "Argala" commando unit and ordered them to pay a 281,750-euro restitution to former Socialist commissioner José Ramón Recalde, who survived a gunshot to his cheek.

Txapote was considered the mastermind behind the plot while Óscar Celarain Ortiz was the gunman who was aided by Andoni Otegui Eraso and Juan Carlos Besance Zugasti, the court said.

The judges also ruled that Txapote trained the three in France, including indoctrinating them in ETA philosophy and showing them how to prepare explosives.

The defendants spent a week trying to locate Recalde's whereabouts in San Sebastián. He was serving as justice commissioner at the time of the attack.

They found that he frequently went to pick up his wife at around 8.30pm at the bookstore that she ran. On September 14, 2000, Celarain waited for his target outside Recalde's home. When he and his wife returned, the gunman went up to the window and fired one shot at his face. The court stated that Celarain only fired once because he was nervous and this was his first assassination job.

He later sped off on a stolen motorcycle with Otegui, who was waiting for him. Besance confessed to the attempt after he was caught in October 2010.

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