[Sinn Fein]

21st July 1999

Sinn Fein Welcomes Release of Herri Batasuna

Sinn Fein President and MP for West Belfast Gerry Adams has today welcomed the decision by the Constitutional Tribunal in Madrid to release the 22 imprisoned members of Herri Batasuna. The former national executive of the party were given 7 years sentences in 1997 for including an image of ETA on an election video. The constitutional Tribunal found that the sentences were excessive and unconstitutional.

``Sinn Fein has consistently called for the release of the former national executive of Herri Batasuna. It has been our view that their imprisonment was contrary to international standards of civil justice and human rights.''

``During my trip to the Basque Country last year I met with members of the imprisoned executive and publicly expressed our party's position, I am delighted that they are finally free and wish them all well for the future.''

``There are still up to 700 political prisoners arising out of the conflict in the Basque Country. These men and women are kept in jails many thousands of Kilometres from their families and loved ones. Their continued imprisonment is a constant reminder of the need for a political settlement to the conflict in that part of Europe. The Spanish government should now grasp this opportunity and engage in a pro-active way with the developing political process. As peace processes throughout the world demonstrate, only when exclusion and criminalisation are left behind and dialogue and agreement placed centre stage, can a true and lasting settlement to any conflict be found.''

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