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Release of Spanish Terrorist from Prison Creates Controversy


The release from prison of a Basque separatist convicted of murdering 25 people, has drawn reaction from Spain's prime minister and victims' advocates.

Jose Ignacio de Juana Chaos, a member of the militant group ETA, left Aranjuez prison outside Madrid Saturday after serving 21 years of a 3,000-year sentence.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said on Friday that feelings of contempt for the ETA member are understandable, but he said the law must be respected.

Victims associations have expressed outrage, not only at Juana Chaos' release, but also at news that he plans to live in the Basque town of San Sebastian, where ETA killed a police officer 40 years ago.

The separatist group has been blamed for more than 820 deaths in a campaign for an independent Basque state in northern Spain and southwestern France.

Spain's penal code at the time of sentencing enabled Chaos to gain an early release from prison.

He was arrested in 1987 and had been due for release in 2006, but was sentenced to additional prison time after publishing articles deemed to be terrorist in nature. He has never expressed remorse for the killings.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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