EL PAÍS, LAINFORMATION.COM (Spain)
BILBAO - By last October when the Basque terrorist organization ETA announced an end to its decades-long campaign of violence, five different convicted ETA terrorists had already met with five people whose lives were affected by the groups attacks: the injured, orphaned and widowed.
The conversations, which were all one-on-one and held in the prisons, were encouraged by the Ministry of the Interior, and the victims reported a positive experience, El País reports. Since then, there have been 6 more meetings under the old plan, and the program was included in the government's new "reinsertion" plan announced in April.
The first meeting under this new plan took place last week, in the run up to the 25th anniversary of ETA's deadliest attack, a car bomb at a shopping center on June 19, 1987. Roberto Manrique, who was injured in that attack, met with Rafael Caride Simón, the attack's mastermind, lainformation.com reports.
Although the meetings have been widely criticized, Manrique, who is the former president of the Catalan Association of Victims of Terrorism, said that the meeting had left him with a positive impression, and that Caride had expressed his feelings of guilt for the pain his actions had caused. Caride did not ask for forgiveness, but Manrique nonetheless said he would rate the meeting "a ten," lainformation.com reports.
El País reports that at least one other meeting, between a woman whose brother was killed by ETA and his assassin, is in the works.