A convicted ETA terrorist has been allowed to serve the rest of his jail sentence under house arrest to prevent him from dying from a hunger strike.
Ignacio de Juana, who has already spent 20 years behind bars for 25 murders and terrorism threats, has one year left to serve.
The government’s decision, which prompted de Juana to stop his hunger strike, has sparked massive controversy but the aim is to prevent him from becoming a martyr for the Basque separatist cause.
Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said:
“I am convinced that if I had not taken that decision, de Juana would have died in the next hours. I realise that many people do not believe de Juana deserves such humane treatment and they are not wrong. The difference between us and the terrorists is that we have respect for life.”
De Juana’s fate has divided the country. The opposition conservatives and groups representing victims’ families have accused the government of giving in to blackmail.
“Zapatero will make history as the government leader who humiliated the victims of terrorism, who surrendered to the blackmail of an assassin who killed 25 people and this is happening just two months after ETA killed again at Barajas (Madrid Airport),” said the Popular Party’s Angel Acebes.