Judges rule to keep hunger striker ETA terrorist in jail
25 January 2007, MADRID — Judges voted on Thursday to leave an ETA prisoner who has been on a months-long, life-threatening hunger strike in jail.
25 January 2007
MADRID — Judges voted on Thursday to leave an ETA prisoner who has been on a months-long, life-threatening hunger strike in jail.
They voted by 12 to four not to release Jose Ignacio de Juana Chaos or relax his sentence even though he is close to death.
De Juana Chaos, who was sentenced in 1988 to 3,000 years in prison for the murders of 25 people in different attacks by the radical Basque separatist group that is deemed a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.
Now 51, he was counting on leaving prison last August after serving 18 years of his sentence. Under Spain's recently reformed 1973 penal code, no one could be held for more than 30 years and virtually all prisoners were eligible for parole.
But his expected release, which sparked heated controversy in Spain, was suspended then he was sentenced to another 12 years in prison in November for writings that judges interpreted as containing terrorist threats, a criminal offense in Spain.
In response, De Juana, who is appealing the latest conviction, began a hunger strike that by late November forced authorities to take him to a Madrid hospital, where doctors warned that his life was in grave danger.
De Juana had staged a previous hunger strike between August and September of last year that ended when Spain's National Court authorized physicians to force-feed him, but doctors say that option is no longer viable.
Prosecutor Fernando Burgos, therefore, on Wednesday requested that the National Court transfer De Juana from prison to his residence under stringent terms of house arrest.
He argued that by making such a move, which would also involve tight police security at the residence and medical attention, authorities could combine their obligation to preserve the inmate's life with the need to stop De Juana from fleeing pending his appeal.
Burgos said that if De Juana makes a satisfactory recovery at his home the court can later order him to be sent back to prison, adding that similar house-arrest arrangements have been made before in Spain in cases of terminal AIDS patients.
De Juana's case has generated a heated political battle between the governing Socialists and the main conservative Popular Party, which have sparred since the beginning of the current administration over how to deal with ETA and the Basque question in general.
The Socialists have already indicated that they will accept whatever decision the judges make, while the PP says that De Juana's case does not pose a humanitarian dilemma and that the possibility that he will be granted house arrest is an outrage.
"The rule of law, democracy and Spanish society cannot give in to a terrorist who has killed more than 25 people," said the leader of the PP in the Basque region, Maria San Gil.
A delegation from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, meanwhile, traveled to Spain on Jan. 14 to investigate De Juana's situation, but thus far has not issued a report on the case.
A late December car-bomb attack at Madrid's Barajas airport by ETA killed two people and ended a nine-month cease-fire.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news