Ines del Rio Prada’s argument that she be freed from prison in Spain was based on the principle that there should be no punishment without law, and that, at age 55 now, she has the same right to liberty and security as any other Spaniard, under the law. By the original rules, she has completed her sentence of punishment.
She has been in prison since 1987. She was convicted for the murders of 24 people. She was charged with many more dozens of attempted murders, and for causing grievous bodily harm, and for terrorism. All of the sentence added up to more than 3,000 years. But Spanish law capped the maximum at 30, and allowed nine years to be taken off for work done in prison and for cooperative behaviour – remission. That would have seen her walk free in 2008. But in 2006, Spain’s Supreme Court changed the interpretation of the time-off rule, saying it should be subtracted from the independent total (more than 3,000 years) – not the maximum serveable. This was called the Parot Doctrine.
Till 2003, the maximum imprisonment was 30 years. Then it was upped to 40.
After that, in 2012, the Spanish Constitutional Court partially upheld the Parot Doctrine.
European Human Rights judges would overwhelmingly decide that the ETA convict’s rights had been violated by the retroactive changes to sentencing rules. Groups such as Voices Against Terrorism, which represent victims of political violence, called on the Spanish government not to comply with the European ruling.
In one case, a man convicted over nine murders got an 822-year sentence and was freed after serving 24 years, last year. Had the Parot Doctrine been applied, his release date would have been extended to 2019.
The European Court also orders Spain to pay Ines del Rio Prada 30,000 euros in damages, plus 1,500 euros for costs and expenses – with interest. The ruling also has a potential to accelerate the release of more than 60 prisoners, most of them in for terrorism and violent crimes including murder and rape.