Spain frees Basque separatist after court ruling

AP News
Posted: Oct 22, 2013 12:05 PM

MADRID (AP) — A Spanish court on Tuesday ordered the release of a Basque separatist convicted of terrorism after a top European human rights court ruled that her rights to have her sentence reduced were violated.

Hours after the decision was issued, Ines del Rio Prada walked out of a northern Spanish prison surrounded by relatives, got into a car and drove away without speaking to reporters.

She had been sentenced in 1987 to a total of 3,828 years for multiple terror attacks carried out by the armed Basque group ETA that killed 24 people.

Del Rio had been due for release in 2008, but Spain's courts ruled her sentence reduction was applicable only to her full sentence, and not to the 30-year maximum period she could be kept in jail under law.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in del Rio's favor Monday, and Spain's National Court heeded the decision by ordering her release.

Spanish authorities have warned the release of Del Rio could lead to demands for release by more than 100 prisoners including convicted terrorists and killers.

ETA is considered a terrorist organization by Spain, the U.S. and the European Union.

It is blamed for the killings of more than 825 people in a campaign of bombings and shootings aimed at achieving an independent Basque state straddling Spain's border with France.

The group has been decimated by arrests in recent years.