Behind a large banner with this message “Free Ion and Jakes”, the demonstrators walked the small streets of the city center, chanting “euskal presoak etxera” (Basque prisoners at home, in Basque). Among them, candidates for the legislative elections and local elected officials.

Ion Parot and Jakes Esnal, both in their seventies, were arrested and imprisoned in 1990, then sentenced in 1997 to life imprisonment alongside other members of ETA’s “roving commando”, notably responsible for the attack on the Zaragoza garrison in 1987 (11 dead).

For their supporters, like Jean-François Mignard, spokesperson for the League of Human Rights, the two men “are languishing in prison while a fair application of French law should finally see them released”.

Their requests for parole have so far been unsuccessful. The fate of Jakes Esnal, detained on the Ile de Ré, is suspended by a decision of the sentencing chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal. First scheduled for Thursday June 9, it was postponed to July 21.

Ion Parot also made a new request for release – the sixth -, examined on May 13. The national anti-terrorism prosecution opposed it and the decision is expected on Wednesday.

“We cannot imagine that no favorable decision will allow their exit, except to conceive that we find ourselves in the situation of a real state revenge”, commented Jean-Daniel Elichiry, representative of the Artisans of peace, movement event organizer.

Warning “justice and the French government”, he brandished the threat of “a blockade of the whole Basque Country this summer”, if they were not released.

In 2020, another member of the same commando, Frédéric “Xistor” Haramboure, benefited from placement under an electronic bracelet, after thirty years in prison.

The case of Unai Parot, brother of Ion Parot, and imprisoned in Spain, also detained for more than thirty years, was also mentioned. “The three could already have been released if exceptional measures had not been applied to them”, believe the organizers.