The Basque prisoner, Iñaki de Juana Chaos, who had been on hunger strike for 114 days was transferred from Madrid to a hospital in San Sebastian yesterday afternoon. The ambulance in which he was travelling arrived in San Sebastian at around 4 pm. On arrival at the hospital in San Sebastian the ambulance was greeted by crowd of Basque nationalists waving flags and holding banners in support of the prisoner. According to official sources De Juana entered the hospital on foot because there were too many people for him to be carried in on a stretcher. Armed police surrounded the hospital
Rubalcaba, a minister for the PSOE government, took the decision to transfer De Juana from Madrid to San Sebastian and reduce his prison to second grade following medical reports that his condition was critical and that his vital organs were on the verge of collapsing.
He also stated that when De Juana had recovered sufficiently he would be able to return home where he would remain under house arrest for the rest of his prison sentence. Rubalcaba, also pointed out that De Juana had served 18 years of his original sentence and that he was now serving time for the 2 threatening newspaper articles which were published in ‘Gara’.
He defended this decision saying that the difference between the state and the terrorists is that the state valued human life very highly. He also said that he had considered what the consequences of De Juana’s death would have been and he taken had the decision very carefully. He said the state had to be firm but also intelligent. Rubalcaba said that it was a question of humanity because the ETA prisoner would almost certainly have died had this course of action not been taken.
All political parties except for the PP have supported Rubalcaba’s decision. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain’s president and leader of PSOE, who was in Barcelona on official business yesterday, has not yet spoken publicly regarding this matter.