INTRODUCTION Several thousand prisoners have been released from Spanish jails following a general call for amnesty for political detainees.
INTRODUCTION Several thousand prisoners have been released from Spanish jails following a general call for amnesty for political detainees. The release came as King Juan Carlos returned home from an overseas tour in the middle of an internal crisis.
SYNOPSIS: While King Carlos was away, the Spanish Government released more than 500 prisoners under a recent amnesty. The amnesty was aimed at preparing the way for general elections later this year, but according to the Ministry of Justice only a small proportion of the released prisoners were in the so-called 'political' category. Among those released were nine out of 100 Basque Nationalists -- the largest group of political prisoners in Spanish jails.
The Basques are the main thorn in the Government's side in the current situation -- and are expected to be a major factor in the general elections in May, the first democratic vote in the country for more than forty years.
Although only a small fraction of the number of prisoners released, the Basques received a massive emotional welcome.
The Basques have been a major factor in Spanish politics for several years -- they're a small proportion of the population, but a vociferous one, and have contributed a large amount towards the general unrest in the country since the death of General Francisco Franco and the advent of a low democracy.