Victims' groups have condemned the government proposals to move ETA prisoners to jails closer to the Basque Country as part of its reinsertion plan for terrorists as "too soon".
Ángeles Pedraza (pictured), president of the Association of Victims of Terrorism (AVT), said the government's plans were "premature" because ETA still exists and because it amounts to "a concession to the terrorists' interests". She said the proposals constitued a major "setback" for victims.
Over 500 ETA prsioners are currently held in prisons across Spain, as well as around 30 members of the extreme left-wing group, GRAPO, some 50 Islamists and almost 400 people found guilty of organised crime.
Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díez made it clear that for a prisoner to be considered for the reinsertion plan, he or she has to meet all the requirements and reject any kind of violence in a "clear, solemn and public" fashion. He said the proposal was in compliance with the Constitution, given that article 25 states ‘the aim of prison sentences is social reintegration’.
There are proposals to create specialist prison classrooms prison dedicated to prisoners’ education and to encourage belief in coexistence. Those who make a clear commitment to rejecting violence will be moved to jails closer to their homes.
Prime Minister Rajoy defended the decision, saying his party "has not changed nor does it intend to change its anti-terrorist policies: our position remains the same, ETA has to disappear and there is nothing more to negotiate".
The opposition PSOE party, for its part, has offered its support for the plan, saying it will ‘damage the hard nucleus of ETA’.
Other objectors have pointed out that prisoners guilty of terrorism are not being called on to apologise to their victims and their families.