By Alexander Weber,
International News Writer
Last Monday, Oct. 21 the European Court overruled the Spanish “Parot Doctrine,” stating that the extended detainment of a Euskadi Ta Askatasuna separatist (ETA) was illegal. Ines del Rio is a convicted terrorist, being found guilty of murder and attempted murder, amongst various other crimes. She has played a role in over 20 assassinations and a number of bombings in Spain before being jailed in 1989. She was scheduled for early release in 2008, yet was further detained by the Spanish government under the so-called Parot Doctrine.
This practice consists of exploiting a loophole in the common practice of subtracting detention time from a criminal’s sentence for good behavior. Spain has never held any form of a life sentence, and the maximum jail time possible, before 2003, was 30 years. In 2006, the Spanish courts decided that the time taken off for good behavior could be from a newly decided imprisonment period, not the previously established 30 year limit. This ruling was first used on Henry Parot, thus, the Parot Doctrine, and has been used as a precedent ever since.
The European Convention of Human Rights Article 7 states that no “heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the criminal offence was committed.”
Under this article, the Spanish government had violated the convention, and must now release any prisoner who had had the Parot Doctrine practiced on them. According to Reuters, this constitutes around 10 percent of all incarcerated ETA “separatist militants.”
The ETA, a group of Basque separatists looking to assist the Basque Country in seceding from Spain and become their own sovereign nation, has been active since 1959. Since 1968, the ETA has been responsible for over 800 mortalities through various acts of terrorism and 5 ceasefires. The ceasefires, starting since 1989, have all been temporary, yet in 2012 they announced a potential permanent end to their activities.
When approached about the European Court’s ruling on the case, Interior Minister, Jorge Fernandez Diaz, said “The Eta that we suffered… no longer exists. It has been defeated. It will not return.”
The influence of the ETA over the past 54 has significantly decreased, rendering them practically irrelevant in Spanish culture, according to BBC. According to analysts the impending release of other ETA separatists should not be cause for any worry; as soon as the violent members return to their families, they are not expected to commit any more crimes.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 29 print edition.
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