The former head of ETA, José Javier Ruiz Arizkuren Kantauri, who was soon to be transferred to a prison in Logroño, Northern Spain, was rushed to Murcia’s Virgen de la Arrixaca hospital on Sunday where he was admitted to ICU in a serious condition.

Kantauri was responsible for the kidnapping and assassination of PP politician Miguel Ángel Blanco in 1997.

Blanco was kidnapped by ETA which threatened to assassinate him unless the Spanish Government transferred all ETA prisoners to prisons in the Basque Country within 48 hours.

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in demonstrations throughout Spain, demanding his release. But 50 minutes after the deadline expired, at 16:50 on 12 July, he was shot in the back of the head. Shortly afterwards, he was found on the outskirts of San Sebastián, with his hands tied, dying. He died in the hospital at 4:30 a.m. on 13 July. He is interred in Faramontaos, A Merca, with his parents who both died from coronavirus, within 3 weeks of each other, earlier this year.

Kantauri was playing sports in the Campos del Río prison, 15km to the west of Murcia when he began to feel ill. He was taken to the prison infirmary, where they stabilised his condition with heart massage. He was then transferred to the El Palmar hospital by ambulance where he had previously been admitted two years ago for a similar problem.

He is currently in the ICU where he has a 24 hour National Police guard.

Born in Pamplona in 1958 and an electrician by trade, Kantauri began his terrorist activity in 1981 in the Baratza command. In 1994, he was made responsible for ETA commandos and was responsible for initiating a terror campaign against PP politicians which included plans to attack the king, Juan Carlos I, in Mallorca.

He is currently serving sentences of 72 and of 82 years in prison.

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