The European Court of Human Rights has called on Spain to release a member of the Basque separatist organisation ETA and to end what has been known as the ‘Parot Doctrine’ which has been in force since 2006.
The decision comes after a campaign led by the Basque militant Ines del Rio Prada. She was jailed in 1989 for terrorist attacks and was due for release in 2008, but Spain invoked the ‘Parot Doctrine’. It allowed Spanish courts to extend the maximum period of detention beyond 30 years.
The ruling could lead to the release of many prisoners held for multiple crime sentences as well as dozens of ETA prisoners.
The Strasbourg court already ruled in 2012 that the extension of Del Rio’s sentence was irregular, but Madrid had appealed to the Grand Chamber.
The court also told Madrid to pay 30,000 euros compensation to Del Rio who was jailed for her role in 23 assassinations and car bombings carried out by ETA.
Del Rio originally received prison sentences totalling more than 3,000 years covering all her convictions – though Spanish law capped the amount of time someone could spend in prison for murder at 30 years.
In 2006, Spanish courts ruled time off for good behaviour should be subtracted from the total sentence handed out to a prisoner, not the 30-year limit. That meant Del Rio would have had no chance of getting out before the three-decade limit had passed.
The sentencing practice is known as the ‘Parot Doctrine’ after the first ETA prisoner it was applied to, Henry Parot.
About 600 ETA members are in prison in Spain. Of those, 61 have had their prison terms extended.