Spain frees 'elevator rapist' under EU rights ruling

14th November 2013, Comments 0 comments

A Spanish court Thursday released a sex killer dubbed "the elevator rapist", the third such convict freed under a European human rights ruling that also benefits the armed Basque separatist group ETA.

Pedro Luis Gallego Fernandez, 53, was sentenced to 273 years in jail in 1995 for raping and killing two girls aged 17 and 19 and a string of other sex attacks.

In some of the attacks he reportedly approached his victims in their apartment buildings where he forced them into the lift before raping them.

Like certain other serial convicts in Spain, the courts prevented him from shortening his sentence due to credits earned while in jail, under a Spanish judicial procedure known as the Parot Doctrine.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg last month overruled that doctrine in the case of an ETA prisoner.

That prompted Spanish courts to accept appeals from various jailed convicts of the Basque separatist group as well as several serial rapists and killers.

The decision outraged many in Spain, including victims of ETA, which is blamed for 829 killings in its four-decade campaign of attacks for an independent Basque homeland.

On Thursday a court in the northern city of Burgos said in a statement that it had taken into account the Strasbourg ruling in ordering the release of Gallego, who under normal rules had been eligible for early release since August 2011.

It said he would be released within hours.

He was the third rapist to be released under the Strasbourg ruling, after Pablo Garcia Ribado, who was sentenced in 1996 to 1,721 years' jail for 74 rapes, and Antonio Garcia Carbonell, sentenced in 1996 to 268 years.

A fourth was facing possible release in the coming days in Valencia: Miguel Ricart, sentenced in 1997 to 170 years for rape and murder.

A court in Albecete, eastern Spain, also on Thursday ordered the release of Pedro Antonio Seco Martinez, who was sentenced to 90 years for three murders.

© 2013 AFP

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