Arnaldo Otegi told his followers that it was worth supporting the General State Budgets in exchange for the release of ETA prisoners. I knew what he was saying. The facts have confirmed his words and the Government of Pedro Sánchez has continued to reinforce the solidity of its pact with EH-Bildu. Without any act of dissuasion from La Moncloa, Otegi feels ratified in his strategy of legitimizing ETA as a political asset of the nationalist left, and for this reason he aspires to greater concessions from the coalition government. The internal fragility of the Executive gives more value to external support such as that of EH Bildu. In short, Otegi has no reason to change his policy of political dividends with the PSOE. For this reason, its next objective is to undermine the system for calculating sentences for ETA members with two very specific reforms.
The nationalist left wants the ETA members convicted before August 15, 2010 to be able to deduct the time spent in prison in France from the sentences in Spain. As of that date, the principle of recognition of convictions between EU member states, established by a European framework decision of 2008, became effective. Although previously convicted terrorists sued for this benefit to be applied to them, both the Spanish courts as the European Court of Human Rights ruled it out. The retroaction of the computation of sentences imposed in France would benefit a quarter of the terrorists who are still in prison -about fifty-, according to data from the Association of Victims of Terrorism, many of whom would see their stay in prison drastically cut or , directly, they would go out to the street. Leaders of the gang such as Fiti or Kantauri and serial killers of the stature of Txapote, convicted of killing Miguel Ángel Blanco or Gregorio Ordóñez, would benefit. The Ministry of Justice itself shamelessly confirms that the decision has been made and that it is part of the Government’s regulatory plan for this year. The 2008 framework decision opens the possibility for EU member states to apply it, but in no case does it oblige them to do so. This is how the Government of Mariano Rajoy understood it, which always rejected a measure of relief for the worst criminals of ETA. With Sánchez, the European umbrella opens to cover his agreements with Otegi.
If this were not enough, the second reform that the pro-ETA members are pressing for is the modification of the Penal Code to annul the full execution of sentences, introduced by the PP and the PSOE as part of their Pact for Freedoms and against Terrorism of 2000. That reform has made the bloodiest terrorists serve the maximum time spent in prison, which can range between thirty and forty years, without cuts for prison benefits or accumulation of sentences. Everything is reversible for the PSOE: when Zapatero agreed with ETA for the 2005 truce, he included the repeal of the Parot doctrine on the common agenda. The disposition of the socialists is always very open when it comes to agreeing with this type of interlocutors.
Whether Otegi achieves these objectives or not, the fact of raising them shows that the pro-ETA members feel safe with a government that is capable of saying that it shares a ‘country project’ with them and that it did not hesitate to incorporate them into the leadership of the State, as he said Churches. Unfortunately, nothing that Bildu proposes is implausible because his demands depend on Sánchez, whose attachment to power overcomes any democratic conditioning and the friendly treatment of Otegi is the irrefutable proof.