Wednesday, August 4

Six months of terror in Catalonia




When they stopped that Renault 19 that was circulating with the license plate and the lock forced, the two urban guards could not imagine that they had before them the command responsible for the last four ETA murders in Catalonia. In the car, intercepted at dawn on January 11, 2001 at the Parallel in Barcelona, José Ignacio Krutxaga and Lierni Armendáriz from ETA they carried the pistol with which the terrorist gang had killed the former socialist minister in recent weeks Ernest Lluch —Whose murder is twenty years old today— and the municipal police Miguel Gervilla. In the vehicle, which had been stolen, they were carrying 15 kilos of explosives and two detonators. The terrorists had imminent plans to continue sowing terror in Catalonia.

They were hard months in which the revitalized command kept this community with its heart in a fist. After breaking a 15-month truce in early 2000 – with the assassination in Madrid of Lieutenant Colonel Pedro Antonio Blanco– the band chose Catalonia as one of their main stages to display their hatred in the following months. On the morning of September 21, ETA shot the PP councilor in the Sant Adrià del Besòs Town Hall (Barcelona) in the middle of the street Jose Luis Ruiz Married. Alberto Fernández Díaz, then regional leader of the party, recalls now, in a conversation with ABC, that that morning he was in Parliament when the Minister of the Interior, Jaime Mayor Oreja, called him, warning him of what had just happened. He planted himself at the crime scene while his partner was still lying on the ground shot and bloody. It was the first attack by a commando at its peak.

Del Olmo, Fernández …

Three weeks after setting off a car bomb in gardens in the Catalan capital – wounding a local policeman and a security guard -, On November 21, ETA shot Lluch to death in the garage of his house. At 63 years old and retired from political life, he lived on Avenida de Chile, just 150 meters from Alberto Fernández’s home. In fact, at first it was believed that the victim could be Fernández himself. The terrorists blew up the car used for the crime in a field. The leader of the Catalan PP heard the detonation and immediately called the government delegate, Julia García-Valdecasas. It was clear to him that it had been an attack. Later, Lluch appeared shot in his garage.

The assassination of the former socialist minister was the one that most shocked public opinion – a massive demonstration of rejection of ETA would be held in Barcelona – but it was just one more in a macabre series. Three weeks later the gang killed the PP councilor in the Barcelona town hall of Viladecavalls Francisco Cano with a bomb planted in his car. The Catalan PP was on the “target”. “There were mothers of young councilors who came to ask me if their children were going to die,” Alberto Fernández recalls with emotion. They endured the type: only two of the 400 elected officials of the party in Catalonia during those months left politics for fear of attacks.

The hatred of the Barcelona command — also known as Gaztelugatxe — at that time targeted politicians, but members of the security forces, including local police, also continued to fall. On December 20, ETA shot dead, also in Barcelona, ​​the urban Juan Miguel Cervilla. It was after a failed attempt to kill journalist Luis del Olmo.

Krutxaga was traveling in the Renault intercepted in the Parallel three weeks later, responsible for three of the four crimes: those of Casado, Lluch and Gervilla. Your companion, Lierni Armendariz, ended up being sentenced for the murder of Cano. With these identifications, the Police located two floors in the Catalan capital where they lived and kept explosives.

The command was partially dismantled, but Fernando García Jordá, also a member of the hard core, slipped away and rebuilt a group to continue shaking Catalonia. ETA would kill on March 17 an agent of the Mossos in Rosas (Gerona), and García Jordá’s command had on its list about fifty PP and PSC councilors. Among his immediate plans was precisely to kill Alberto Fernández with an artifact camouflaged in a flowerpot. The imminence of this plan precipitated the police operation that would give the penultimate thrust to the command. It all started with that Renault 19.

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