updated 3/21/2010 11:39:44 AM ET 2010-03-21T15:39:44

A judge has filed preliminary homicide charges against a suspected member of Basque separatist group ETA who was arrested after a shootout that killed a French police officer, the Paris prosecutor's office said Sunday.

The charges against Joseba Fernandez Aspurz, 27, include "aggravated homicide," "criminal association with a terrorist enterprise" and "armed theft," the prosecutor's office said. He remains jailed.

Fernandez was taken into custody Tuesday following a shootout southeast of Paris that killed a French policeman. It was the first time ETA has been accused in the death of a French police official. Police are still looking for suspects who fled.

Fernandez confessed to being an ETA member, the prosecutor's office has said. Ballistics tests suggested he did not fire either of the two fatal shots but did use his weapon in the shootout, it said.

Under French law, preliminary charges mean an investigating judge has strong reason to suspect involvement in a crime, giving the magistrate more time to continue the investigation.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero both have blamed ETA for the killing.

ETA, which is seeking an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France, is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States. It has killed more than 825 people since the late 1960s.

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