UK judges rule in favour of terrorist wanted over 1986 Madrid bomb attack
A convicted terrorist wanted by Spanish authorities as a result of his involvement in a 1986 Madrid bomb attack which left 11 people dead has won the latest round of a fight against extradition from the the UK.
Two British judges today allowed an appeal by Antonio Arranz following a hearing at the High Court in London.
Judges heard that Arranz had been a member of a terrorist cell with links to Basque separatist group ETA - he had travelled to the UK about four years ago and was arrested at an address in Hounslow, west London, in 2012.
A lower-ranking judge had ordered his extradition from England to Spain following hearings in a magistrates court in Westminster, London.
Arranz had challenged that decision at a hearing in the High Court in London in June.
Judges Lord Thomas - the most senior judge in England and Wales - and Mr Justice Cranston announced their ruling today.
Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, explained how Arranz had been convicted and jailed in Spain then released - and how Spanish authorities had subsequently made efforts to have him returned.
Arranz had been a member of a terrorist cell which "sought to further the aims" of ETA and on July 14 1986 he and others had place an "explosive device" in central Madrid.
The bomb had been detonated as a convoy of civil guards approached.
Eleven members of the civil guard had been killed, 43 members of civil guard and 17 civilians had been injured, and there had been substantial damage to property, said Lord Thomas.
In 1989, Arranz had been convicted of 91 offences - including terrorism, murder and attempted murder - and been sentenced to 2,232 years in prison.
In 2000 the sentence had been capped at 30 years.
Arranz had earned nearly six years' remission, had been released in 2011 and had left Spain for the UK.
But lawyers in Spain had questioned the legality of Arranz's early release and Spanish authorities had applied for him to be extradited.
Lord Thomas and Mr Justice Cranston indicated that they had allowed the appeal after concluding that the Spanish Judicial Authority - which was represented by the British Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) at the High Court hearing - should have supplied more evidence to support the extradition bid.
They said they had invited lawyers to submit more evidence.
"It would not have been difficult for the Spanish Judicial Authority to have responded on this point," said Lord Thomas.
"It is inexplicable in these circumstances why the Spanish Judicial Authority did not seek to take advantage of the invitation which we extended to put in evidence during the course of the appeal.
He added: "We are very concerned that our invitation was expressly declined on the instructions of the CPS."