Spanish judges have ordered the immediate release of a convicted Basque militant after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that her continued detention was unlawful.

A member of the Basque separatist group ETA, Ines del Rio Prada had been serving a 30-year sentence for terrorist attacks in the 1980s, including participation in 23 assassinations and bombings.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that her extended detention was illegal, and called for Madrid to pay her €30,000 in compensation.

The Spanish high court accepted the ruling because it had no choice, reported El Pais. Prada was due to be released imminently after 26 years in prison.

She was jailed for 3,838 years in 1989 - later reduced to 30 years, the maximum time a person can serve for murder under Spanish law.

Prada took the Spanish government to the ECHR when it became apparent that time deducted for good behaviour would be deducted from the total length of her sentence, rather than the 30-year maximum.

She was scheduled for release in July 2008, but a month and a half before that date the high court moved her release to July 2017, applying the "Parot Doctrine" to extend her detention.

Terrorists associated with ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna - "Basque Homeland and Freedom") have killed 800 people since their campaign for a separate Basque state turned violent in 1968. In recent years a series of arrests had weakened the group and in 2011 it declared an open-ended ceasefire but earlier in October a demonstration in support of members imprisoned for terrorism attracted thousands of protestors in Bilbao.

The latest ruling could pave the way for other members of ETA to challenge the length of their imprisonment and potentially sue for compensation. There are about 600 members of ETA in Spanish prisons, of whom around 60 have had their early release cancelled under the Parot Doctrine.


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