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Interior puts an end to 34 years of dispersal of ETA prisoners


The next transfer of five inmates to prisons in the Basque Country will leave Natividad Jauregi, 'Pepona', pending trial, as the only member of the gang imprisoned outside Euskadi and Navarra

The Ministry of the Interior has put an end this Friday to the policy of dispersal of ETA prisoners that the socialist government of Felipe González established 34 years ago, maintained all the subsequent governments of the PP and the PSOE and undid from 2018 the Executive chaired by by Pedro Sanchez.

It has done so with the announcement of the transfer of five of the last six inmates of the terrorist organization who remained in prisons outside the Basque Country and Navarra.

When these approaches materialize, only Natividad Jauregi, alias

Pepona , will remain in a prison that is neither Basque nor Navarre

, extradited by Belgium in 2020 after almost four decades on the run.

Pepona, 63, remains in preventive detention at the Alcalá de Henares Penitentiary Center (Madrid) waiting for the National Court to finish instructing the case against her for the murder of Lieutenant Colonel Ramón Romeo in 1981.

After learning about the announcement, the general coordinator of EH Bildu, Arnaldo Otegi, has shown his "contained joy" at the end of a prison policy included in the fight against terrorism that, in his opinion, "should never have been launched", reports Europe Press.

Otegi has advocated for "a future of recognition and reparation for all victims and a horizon without prisoners."

For its part, the Association of Victims of Terrorism (AVT) has issued a harsh statement in which it charges against Pedro Sánchez and the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, whom it accuses of being "with the terrorists, not with their victims."

The dispersal of prisoners, established in 1989, consisted of distributing ETA inmates in different Spanish prisons, generally far from the Basque Country,

Among the ETA prisoners whose rapprochement was announced this Friday is Irantzu Gallastegi Sodupe, alias


, sentenced, among other causes, for the murder of PP councilor Miguel Ángel Blanco.

The other four inmates are Asier Borrero Toribio (sentenced to six years for possession, manufacture and placement of explosives), Faustino Marcos Álvarez (with a 13-year sentence for belonging to an armed gang and possession of weapons), Gregorio Escudero Balerdi (with a accumulated sentence of 30 years for murder, homicide and havoc) and Garikoitz Etxeberria (sentenced to 20 years for belonging to a terrorist organization and deposit of explosives).

When they are finally transferred ―a process that can take weeks―, of the 161 ETA prisoners in Spanish jails, nine will be in the Pamplona prison (dependent on the Interior, like the one in Alcalá de Henares where Jauregi is) and 151 in one of the three prisons managed by the Basque Government, according to data collected by EL PAÍS from different sources.

This last figure confirms the good harmony that exists between the Interior and the Executive of Íñigo Urkullu since he assumed prison jurisdiction on October 1, 2021. At that time, only 40 men and four women from ETA were held in Basque prisons, of the 192 prisoners of the terrorist organization that existed in Spain at the time, and in just a year and a half the figures have turned upside down.

In addition, in France there are still another 13 prisoners,

In the coming years, it is expected that there will be a trickle of releases of ETA prisoners after serving their sentences.

In fact, in the last month there have been five, according to Etxerat, an association that supports inmates of the terrorist organization.

The current number of prisoners —161 in Spain, 13 in France— is the lowest in more than four decades and is far from the 559 (plus another 114 in prisons abroad) that existed when the organization announced in October 2011. “the definitive cessation of the armed activity”;

or of the 243 (plus 53 in France and one in Portugal) who remained imprisoned in April 2018, when the band announced its dissolution.

So, the number of them who were confined in prisons in the Basque Country or Navarra was testimonial.

It has not been the only significant change in the prison situation of ETA inmates since Grande-Marlaska took over the Interior portfolio in June 2018 and announced the approach of prisoners in an "individualized" manner and within "strict compliance with the law".

Since then, the percentage of inmates in the gang classified in first degree prison or closed regime, the harshest, has gone from being the majority (88% just before the announcement of the dissolution) to there being none.

At present, all the prisoners of the terrorist organization are serving their sentences in the second degree or ordinary ―which will allow them to access prison benefits if they meet certain requirements― or in the third degree or semi-liberty.

Since the Basque Government took over the management of the prisons in 2021, it has granted semi-liberty to 34 members of the extinct terrorist organization, although 10 of these cases have been revoked by the courts.

Before transferring the management of the prisons to the Basque Government, the Ministry of the Interior had granted semi-liberty to another 27 prisoners of the terrorist organization, of whom the justice system revoked the decision in only three cases.

In addition, it then granted two third degrees that Interior had rejected.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-03-24

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