“The law must be followed,” judges tell victims after release of sick ETA inmate

Vigil held to protest granting of parole to terminal cancer patient Bolinaga

A photograph of  Iosu Uribetxebarria Bolinaga from August, 2012.
A photograph of Iosu Uribetxebarria Bolinaga from August, 2012.JUAN HERRERO (EFE)

Members of the Association of the Victims of Terrorism (AVT) held a vigil outside the High Court on Thursday to protest a decision to grant conditional parole to terminally ill ETA inmate Iosu Uribetxeberria Bolinaga, who is serving a long sentence for kidnapping and murder.

AVT president Ángeles Pedraza met for a few minutes privately with High Court judges Fernando Grande-Marlaska, the head of the criminal section, and Alfonso Guevara, who served on the five-magistrate panel that granted Bolinaga parole on Wednesday.

Bolinaga is serving 32 years for the 1996 kidnapping of prison director José Ortega Lara, who was rescued after 532 days in captivity, and for the 1987 attack on a Civil Guard unit that claimed the lives of two officers, as well as other crimes. He was given conditional release because he is terminally ill with cancer.

The controversial decision has angered victims’ groups as well as some in the governing Popular Party (PP), who complain that a core element of their electorate are ETA victims’ associations.

After the meeting, Pedraza said that Marlaska and Guevara told her that they sympathized with the AVT’s position on the matter but they had to apply what was stated in the law. Pedraza handed four copies of the book Vidas rotas (Broken lives), which profiles the 857 people killed by ETA, to the four judges on the five-member panel who voted in favor of releasing Bolinaga.

“Even though it sometimes hurts, the law must be followed,” Pedraza said Marlaska had told her. He also invited her to read the ruling carefully so she could understand the position the judges were taking.

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