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Spain court frees 9 ETA prisoners

Spain's National Court [official website, in Spanish] in Madrid on Friday ordered nine imprisoned members of the Basque separatist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive] released in compliance with a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruling [judgment; press release, PDF] made last month. In its order, the court determined [AFP report] that the case of the nine ETA prisoners was identical to that of Ines del Rio Prada, who was ordered released [JURIST report] last month following the ECHR ruling. In its ruling, the ECHR determined that del Rio Prada "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."

A large number of suspected ETA members have been arrested throughout Europe over the past few years. Spanish authorities expressed concern that the ECHR ruling would apply to other ETA prisoners. Spain has continued to imprison members of the ETA 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. In 2011 the Collective of Basque Political Prisoners (EPPK) released a statement [JURIST report] supporting the 2010 Guernica agreement [PDF, in Spanish] and called for the ETA to commit to a permanent truce. Despite the EPPK's statement, the Spanish government continues to actively pursue charges [JURIST report] against ETA.

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