Spain seeks tougher measures for ETA ex-convicts

11th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

The government and opposition are hoping to come up with tougher anti-terrorist legislation following release of notorious ETA killer.

11 August 2008

MADRID - The public outrage over the recent release from prison of Iñaki De Juana Chaos, one of ETA's bloodiest and most unrepentant killers, has left the government and opposition scrambling to come up with tougher antiterrorist legislation.

The ruling Socialists and the opposition Popular Party (PP) have warned that there is little margin for action afforded by the current Penal Code and the Constitution.

However, Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba and the PP's justice spokesman, Federico Trillo, are poring over the criminal code with a view to enacting new "post-prison" measures for terrorist ex-convicts.

The measures could include prohibiting them from living near their victims, which is exactly what De Juana Chaos plans to do after having left prison on 2 August.

De Chaos recently bought an apartment in San Sebastián located near the homes of several of his victims' relatives, a move that current legislation is powerless to stop, the government said.

De Juana Chaos served 18 years of a 3,000-year sentence for the murder of 25 people in the 1980s, thanks to a system that allowed term reductions for good conduct and work-study programs.

He then served another three years for issuing threats against prison officials, although part of that term was spent in hospital and under house arrest after he went on hunger strike.

The decision to place him under house arrest during a period when ETA had announced a ceasefire was strongly criticised by the PP, which broke off all cooperation on anti-terrorist issues with the government.

Since the Socialists' re-election in March of this year, however, the opposition has reopened the door to cooperation. The new secretary general of the PP, María Dolores de Cospedal, has twice asked for "tougher legislation" against terrorists, although for now neither party favours introducing life sentences into Spain's Penal Code, which sets out a maximum of 40 years in jail for terrorist crimes.

[El Pais / Anabel Diez / Pablo X. De Sandoval / Expatica]

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