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Spanish parties agree anti-terror pact

February 2, 2015

Spain's two main political parties have agreed a pact to tackle Islamist extremism. The ruling conservatives and socialists reached a compromise on the issue following recent terror attacks in Paris.

Spanien Premierminister Mariano Rajoy und Pedro Sanchez
Image: Reuters/Juan Medina

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the governing conservative People's Party (PP) and Pedro Sanchez of the opposition Socialist Party (PSOE) signed the bill in a ceremony in Madrid on Monday. The legislation still has to be approved by the Spanish parliament.

"We are adopting better judicial and operational tools to guarantee the freedom and security of Spanish citizens," Rajoy said at the signing, which was broadcast on Spanish television. "We have hereby set down a sign of unity and consensus."

Sanchez described the bill as an "indispensible accord to improve our capacity to prosecute and fight jihadist terrorism."

Assuming it is approved by lawmakers, the new legislation would stiffen penalties for terror-related offences and give judges and police new powers to prosecute "lone wolf" extremists, as well as those who leave the country to join armed Islamist groups in places like Syria or Iraq.

The bill also includes provisions designed to make it easier for the authorities to crack down on the financing of terrorist groups, as well as making it a crime to distribute terrorist propaganda.

The opposition PSOE rejected a PP proposal that would have included in the legislation a provision for outright life sentences for convicted terrorists. The two parties eventually agreed a compromise in which life sentences can be handed down, but will be subject to judicial review after a convict has served 35 years. The current maximum sentence for any crime in Spain is 40 years.

Negotiations on the bill were fast-tracked by the government and the opposition in light of last month's terrorist attacks in Paris that left 20 people dead.

pfd/bk (AP, AFP, dpa)