TOWARD THE END OF ETA TERRORISM

Another ETA prisoner with same life expectancy as Bolinaga got early release

Prosecutors did not oppose freeing of Ibáñez Oteiza, nor demand that he reject violence

Just like the ETA murderer and kidnapper Iosu Uribetxeberria Bolinaga, he had a "serious and incurable" disease -- a metastatic cancer. And just like Bolinaga, doctors figured he had around a year to live.

But in January 2011, the High Court prosecutor did not oppose the release of ETA convict Mikel Ibáñez Oteiza, nor did he demand that he reject violence and ask his victims for forgiveness as conditions for his release, as was the case with Bolinaga.

Oteiza was convicted for the murder of the businessman Francisco Javier Zabaleta in 1988 and was due for release in 2035. But his advanced cancer prompted an early release last year. He died three months afterwards.

Bolinaga had been granted early release by High Court Judge José Luis de Castro, but remained in custody until Wednesday night, when the prosecutor's appeal against the granting of a furlough was rejected.

The ETA convict has cancer of the kidneys that has spread to the brain and a lung.

The life expectancy in both cases was similar. Medical reports at Martutene penitentiary, where Oteiza was serving time, estimated that he had a year to live and described his situation as "unfavorable in the short term."

In Bolinaga's case, his life expectancy was initially set by Hospital Donostia in San Sebastián at one year, but later reports have reduced that timeframe to three months and 10 days. Meanwhile, the forensic report, which opposed the pardon, establishes Bolinaga's life expectancy at 11 months and 10 days.

In the first case, the High Court prosecutor did not demand repentance and apologies from Oteiza, even though the Penal Code establishes both as requisites for the release of terrorists.

Judge De Castro, with the prosecutor's support, decided that in case of "serious and incurable diseases" the only issue that should be taken into account is the extent to which the illness in question limits the prisoner's ability to commit further crimes and the level of danger posed.

De Castro felt that rejection of ETA and repentance for the harm caused were necessary conditions for release only if there was no "imminent risk to life." The judge and the prosecutor felt that in Oteiza's case, there was a risk to his life because of the metastatic cancer he suffered and the unfavorable medical reports.

Now, however, the reports placing Bolinaga's death a little over 11 months from now are not good enough for the prosecutor.

The judge and the prosecutor also saw eye to eye in the case of Sergio Pérez Fuertes, who received a five-year sentence for putting a Molotov cocktail in a commuter train in 1998.

Parole was granted because he was diagnosed as suffering from a psychotic episode, and neither law officer demanded contrition or apologies from him. De Castro simply released him, and due to his mental illness proposed that he be declared unfit.

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