May 21st, 2010
02:00 PM ET

ETA members get 1,040 years each for Madrid bombing

[Updated at 2:00 p.m.] Spain's highest court has sentenced three members of the Basque separatist group ETA to more than 1,000 years in prison for a terrorist attack against one of the nation's busiest airports in 2006, officials said Friday.

Spain's Audiencia Nacional, or National Court, sentenced Igor Portu, Mattin Sarasola and Mikel San Sebastian as the ones behind the powerful bomb attack on Madrid-Barajas Airport in December 2006. The attack resulted in the deaths of two Ecuadorian nationals.

They join several other ETA members who the courts have sentenced to 1000 years in prison even though the maximum that can be served in Spanish prison is 40 years. Spain has no death penalty.

Judge Alfonso Guevara, who presided over the trial, also ordered the defendants to pay 700,000 euros to the family of Diego Armando Estacio and 500,000 euros to the family of Carlos Alonso Palate, both killed during the attack.

The blast came in the midst of a unilateral cease-fire ETA had declared in March 2006. The cease-fire raised hopes at the time for an end to decades of ETA violence blamed for more than 800 deaths.

ETA - or Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, which in Basque means "Homeland and Freedom" - is one of Europe's last separatist groups. The organization, pronounced "etta," has sought independence for a Basque state in northern Spain and southwestern France since it was launched during Spain's Franco dictatorship.

According to studies by the Council on Foreign Relations, ETA's structure has fissured, and many members are attempting to enter the political process.

[Posted at 12:44 p.m.] A court has sentenced three members of the Basque separatist group ETA to 1,040 years each for their roles in a bombing that killed two people at the Madrid airport in 2006, according to CNN+ and EFE, the national news agency in Spain.

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soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. michael

    they were sentenced to over a millennium in prison? so after they pass away from old age their spirit will remain the remainder of the time then what?

    May 21, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • mozrox

      It's symbolic, you dolt.

      May 21, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mickey

      Well, it sounds like that Spain have taken a leaf out of the book of the US, which regularly sentences people to sentences in jail that exceed even Old Testament lifespans. ven the Romans didn't do things like that, I expect they would have found the idea of life in jail to be inhumane ..

      May 21, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hocksman

      You are hereby sentenced to one quajillion years in jail – I was going to put you in for one trillion years, but I need to make an example out of you ....

      May 21, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Not sure how it's symbolic.... I human will never live to be 1000 years old, just another example of human stupidity.

      May 21, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AntiWar

    1040 years - Symbolic for what ????

    May 21, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • damian

      1040, that everyone must pay, like we all pay the IRS (in the US) using IRS Form 1040.


      They handed out that sentence because they don't have death penalty in Spain.

      May 21, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jimbly

    symbolic of what exactly?

    May 21, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rationale

    If it's done in in the same mindset of the US, aren't extensive sentences used to eliminate even the chance of parole? It also sends a message to other would-be terrorists about reconsidering attacking civilians. In theory it's interesting... in theory.

    May 21, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Alberto

    In Spain the maximun time you can stay in prison is 20 years, when you are sentenced to 1040 years in fact you will stay on jail 20 years, but if you are sentenced to 20 years using the beneficts for being a 'good boy" in jail (working or studing in jail during your sentence) perhaps you will be free in 15 years. Its not only 'symbolic'.

    May 21, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. spamdemonium

    It would be interesting if advances in medical science allowed people to live longer lives so that they could actually serve out their entire jail term.

    It kind of sounds like a Twilight Zone episode actually.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. expat

    1,040 years is not symbolic; it is the sum of the sentences for the crimes of which these terrorists have been convicted. That said, the maximum period of incarcelation for terrorism in Spain is 40 (not 20) years, with the possibility of parole within 10-15 years. Just look at the case of Jose Ignacio de Juana Chaos, who, after being sentenced to over 3,000 years for killing 25 people, among numerous other crimes, walked out of prison after 18 years and is now hiding out in Ireland with his IRA friends.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kamran

    They are working on a medicine to keep criminals alive for 1200 years.

    May 21, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Gary

    @spamdemomium: I remember a sci-fi movie about a planet where people actually have to serve such sentences. There's a huge, lizard-like creature named Osh who's saliva prevents aging and disease. They can keep you alive indefinitely. The expense of such an undertaking in our prison system, however, might make that undesirable.

    May 21, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bluenote

    Know what would be funny? If these clowns were all set to be freed after forty years, and then somebody accidentally shot them all three times in the back of their heads. Ooopsie! lol

    May 21, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. occanyonman

    In the US it's done in some states because they can't sentence someone to a sentence that doesnt allow for parole. When the give someone 250 years it make them techinally still eligable for parole but it pushes out the time it take before a prisoner can apply for that parole.

    For example say if you get sentenced to 40 years and they can parole you in 15. Giving you 160 years pushes that parole period out to 60 years. Effectively life.

    Other states can sentence to "life without the possibility of parole"....

    May 21, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. AntiWar

    More than that, why should media publish LAW TERMINOLOGIES that lay man cannot understand anyway. I think they are enjoying blogs!!!!

    May 22, 2010 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |