PRISON RELEASE SPARKS MAJOR PROTESTS

14 Basque terrorist José Ignacio de Juana Chaos was released from Aranjuez jail early last Saturday morning after serving 21 years for killing 25 people in the mid-1980s. De Juana Chaos was sentenced to more than 3,000 years in 1987 for his part in a string of ETA attacks, including one of the group’s deadliest – a Madrid car-bombing in 1986 which killed 12 members of the Guardia Civil. However, under the penal code then in force, the maximum term he could serve was 30 years. He qualified for early release in 2004 but was given a further term for threatening behaviour. His release has sparked outrage throughout the country. Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero said De Juana Chaos “generates a perfectly understandable feeling of contempt” among all citizens “and of course the head of the government”. But, he added, “we must respect the law”. There was tight security at Aranjuez prison last Saturday morning in anticipation of trouble from protesters. However, De Juana, his wife and two lawyers drove out of the prison grounds without incident. Earlier in the week, someone sprayed “We shall not forget, we shall not forgive” in blood red paint on the door of the apartment block in San Sebastian where De Juana is expected to take up residence with his wife. Seven victims of ETA violence live in the same building, which has disgusted the Victims of Terrorism Group. It has called on the government to forbid known ETA terrorists to live anywhere near their victims. Maite Pagazaurtundau, whose brother was assassinated by ETA, has called for legal reforms to stop ETA prisoners going free before they have paid compensation to the victims and have publicly expressed their repentance. De Juana has never expressed any regret for what he did. In fact, he told fellow prisoners when watching the funeral of an ETA victim: “Their tears are our smiles.” On Saturday, protesters held demonstrations in San Sebastian and in the square in Madrid where the 12 Guardia Civil were killed. De Juana decided against attending a gathering of ETA sympathisers in the old part of San Sebastian last Saturday who wanted to welcome him back. In a letter, he said he wanted to avoid the “media show”. It seems he intends to lie very low until something or someone else takes the media spotlight off him. De Juana Chaos was released exactly 40 years to the day after ETA carried out its first targeted killing.

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