International search is on for freed ETA inmate

Troitiño may have crossed over into France, police say

More than a week after one of ETA's bloodiest terrorists, Antonio Troitiño, was wrongly released from jail, authorities said Wednesday they have lost track of him after he crossed over into France to reportedly meet with his lawyer.

An international search and capture warrant was issued by the High Court, which revoked its earlier decision that allowed Troitiño to walk out of a Huelva jail on April 13 after serving 24 years of a 30-year sentence. Troitiño's lawyers took advantage of a legal loophole that permitted him to chalk up time-served credit for all the days that he spent in preventive custody while awaiting trial on individual charges and subtract them from his maximum sentence.

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However, on Wednesday it emerged that the Supreme Court had blocked Troitiño's early release petition on March 28, but the ruling hadn't been published by the time the High Court panel reached its decision.

Troitiño was convicted of 22 killings, including the murders of 12 Civil Guard officers in a car-bomb attack in Madrid in 1986. He was captured the year after and sentenced to 2,232 years.

Throughout the day, French authorities kept watch outside Troitiño's lawyer's office in Hendaye, believing that he was there.

The entire episode sparked a new political ruckus between the government and opposition. Antonio Basagoiti, leader of the Popular Party in the Basque Country, warned that "a minister's or judge's head will roll" if he isn't captured. Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba said it would have been illegal for the government to have kept tabs on Troitiño if the High Court had let him go.

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