Condemned in 1997 to life, the Basques Jakes Esnal and Ion Parot, aged 71, must start a probationary period during which they will be placed under electronic home surveillance.
The Paris Court of Appeal, Thursday, September 22, responded favorably to the request for parole of Jakes Esnal and Ion Parot. Of French nationality, these two ex-members of the Basque separatist organization ETA had been sentenced in 1997 to criminal imprisonment perpetuity by French justice alongside other members of ETA, notably responsible for the garrison attack De Saragosse (Spain) in 1987, which had left eleven dead. In mid-October, they had to start a probationary period. Under electronic surveillance, they will be under house arrest and must compensate the civil parties.
The decision of the judges was welcomed by most of the elected officials and mayors of the Basque Country, including MP Modem Vincent Bru, or that of the Iñaki Echaniz Nut. Same approval by the Max Brisson Senators (Les Républicains), Frédérique Espagnac (PS) or Denise Saint-Pé (Modem). The President Modem of the Departmental Council of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Jean-Jacques Lasserre, evokes him “a satisfactory decision [which] goes in the direction of more peaceful relations in the Basque Country”. Jean-René Etchegaray, mayor of Bayonne and president of the agglomeration community of the Basque Country, specifies: “French justice takes note of what the peace process in the Basque Country has been since the Aiete conference in 2011. This Decision opens the door to transitional justice, “hopes the one who is also a lawyer. For its part, Covite, a Spanish association for supporting the victims of ETA, expresses some reservations but declares to respect the decision of French justice.
The two ex-members of ETA had been arrested in 1990. They were part of the itinerant commando called “Argala”, which has perpetrated a number of attacks in Spain, mainly against police and civilian guards. These two men, aged 71, to date 32 years of incarceration.
Until now, liberation requests have not prospered, the magistrates invoking in particular “a risk of recurrence” or even disorder for public order. Today the context appears different: ETA ceased its armed actions in 2011, a few days before the “peace conference” of Aiete in Saint-Sébastien, the Spanish Basque city where international personalities had gathered under the chairmanship of Kofi Annan, former UN secretary general. Then ETA dismantled its arsenal in 2017 before dissolving the following year. At the same time, activists and elected officials have continuously acted for the release of Basque prisoners, as on July 23, trying to block the Basque Country or at least its traffic axes.
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