Europe rights court rules Spain must release Basque separatist prisoner

[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website;] ruled [judgment; press release, PDF] Monday that Spain must release a member of the Basque Separatist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive] because her detention violates EU law. Ines del Rio Prada was convicted of plotting ETA terrorist attacks in the 1980s and was due for release in 2008 [AP report]. However, Spain has continued to imprison her under the Parot Doctrine, which permits sentence reductions for each individual sentence rather than the now-maximum 30-year sentence. Del Rio Prada was originally sentenced to 3,000 years in prison for her crimes. In the press release the court explained that the Parot doctrine was illegal under EU law:

Ms. del Rio Prada could not reasonably have foreseen that the method used to apply remissions of sentence for work done in detention would change as a result of a departure from case-law by the Supreme Court in February 2006, and that the new approach would be applied to her. The application of the "Parot doctrine" in Ms. del Rio Prada's case had resulted in delaying the date of her release by almost nine years. She had therefore served a longer term of imprisonment than she should have served under the Spanish legal system in operation at the time of her conviction, taking into account the remissions of sentence she had already been granted in conformity with the law.
Spanish authorities worry that the decision could be applied to more than 100 current prisoners.

A large number of suspected ETA members have been arrested throughout Europe over the past few years. In January a Scottish court granted a request [JURIST report] to extradite an alleged member of the ETA to France. In October 2012 the French police [official website, in French] and the Spanish Civil Guard [official website, in Spanish] arrested [JURIST report] Isaskun Lesaka, one of the three suspected leaders of ETA. In 2011 a Spanish court sentenced [JURIST report] a former military leader for the group to 105 years in prison for ordering the murder of a Socialist political leader and his bodyguard. Two months earlier a group of ETA prisoners released a statement [JURIST report] calling for the ETA to stop violence and commit to a truce. In 2010 the Spanish government also accused the Venezuelan government [JURIST report] of aiding ETA members in a plot to kill Colombian government officials in Spain. A Spanish judge also found earlier that year that a member of ETA had attempted three times [JURIST report] to kill Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar in 2001.

 

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