ETA PRISONERS

Meeting of freed ETA prisoners is “witches’ sabbath,” minister says

Fernández Díaz scathing about terrorists’ mea culpa

Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz said on Friday that “the only ETA statement the government is interested in is the one in which it announces its unconditional dissolution.”

The minister was referring to the December 28 announcement by ETA’s convict community representatives that admitted the “multilateral” damage caused by their attacks and accepted the possibility of prisoners applying for individual sentence-reducing benefits. Until now, ETA’s position has been to forbid its members from applying for benefits, on the basis that it did not accept the legality of their convictions.

A recent decision by the European Court of Human Rights has already resulted in the release of 60 ETA members with long convictions for murder. This group is planning to meet in the Basque town of Durango on Saturday to show their support for jailed members. The interior minister has called this meeting “repugnant” and “a witches’ sabbath.”

Fernández Díaz insisted that “the government has not negotiated, is not negotiating and will not negotiate with ETA.” The minister dismissed the announcement as propaganda, noting that in Spain “there are no political prisoners or prisoners because of their birthplace. They [the ETA convicts] are neither political prisoners nor Basque prisoners, they are terrorist prisoners.”

“As long as the organization exists because it has not dissolved, or as long as prisoners do not clearly and evidently break with the organization, the current policy will continue to be applied,” he added.

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