Top court puts ETA-linked cases ahead of abortion ruling

New termination reform likely to precede verdict on 14-week law

If the Constitutional Court does not pick up the pace, the Popular Party government may have approved its overhaul of the current abortion law before the justices have decided on the legality of the current on-demand rule.

In comments Monday to local radio station Cadena Ser, the head of the Court, Pascual Sala, said there were no plans to rule on suits against the current abortion law before the fall. Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, has said the government will strike down the current law under which women can abort on demand up to 14 weeks into their pregnancy and revert to the previous version of the law, which is more restrictive.

Sala indicated the Court would give priority to examining the illegalization of the leftwing independence-seeking abertzale Basque party Sortu, and the so-called Parot Doctrine, under which crimes of a particularly serious nature, especially those related to terrorism, can carry multiple sentences that do not run concurrently.

Sala said he expects a ruling on Sortu "as soon as possible." The government is hoping the Court will decide on Sortu and the Parot Doctrine within the next few weeks.

The issue of the Parot Doctrine is legally of a much more complex nature, but is potentially important in terms of hastening the definitive end of the terrorist group ETA, which has abandoned the use of arms but has yet to disband. If the doctrine is amended, some 60 ETA prisoners could be freed.

A ruling on Sortu is required ahead of Basque regional elections due to be held within the next 12 months. Sortu was declared illegal because of its perceived connections to ETA.

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