ETA member Xabier Atristain has returned to prison. The Strasbourg sentence that recognized the violation of the right to a trial with all the guarantees has earned him three and a half months in freedom, but not to definitively get rid of his sentence.
The Ertzaintza has arrested the ETA member in San Sebastián by order of the National High Court, which revoked the provisional release after verifying this Wednesday that the Supreme Court rejected his request to present an appeal for review. This appeal was the only way to revoke the firm sentence of 17 years in prison for belonging to ETA and possession of weapons and explosives.
The Third Section of the National Court accepted his request for freedom in February while it was decided whether or not that extraordinary appeal was successful. Compliance with Atristain’s sentence was suspended, as agreed by the court, so now he resumes compliance. The three long months in freedom are not discounted.
The Supreme Court, in agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office, denied authorization to present the appeal for review after verifying that his conviction was not based solely on the evidence that the European Court of Human Rights questioned, but that there were others that supported the conviction.
The questioned evidence was his confession to the police after his arrest. The reason is that the statement was not made before a lawyer he trusted, since he was incommunicado. Strasbourg’s objection is that this isolation was not motivated for the specific case, which contaminated the confession.
That criterion, already known as the Atristain doctrine, has led to two acquittals of ETA members, but the terrorist who gives it its name has not been able to escape conviction. What he will take from this whole matter are the 12,000 euros that Spain will have to pay him by order of the European court.
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