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MPs vote to end option for courts to award full life sentences

Juan Carlos Quer (c) and Juan José Cortés in parliament.
Juan Carlos Quer (c) and Juan José Cortés in parliament. / EFE
  • Amid an emotional week, politicians debated a planned motion over the controversial penalty, as relatives of murdered children urged them to think again

Against a background of public shock and mourning over the murder of Gabriel Cruz, MPs in Madrid have gone ahead with a previously planned vote on a controversial sentencing option for judges in extreme murder cases.

Politicians were called upon on Thursday to decide on whether parliament would start the legal process to take the full life sentence option off the country's statute books.

Full, revisable life prison (Prisión Permanente Revisable) was voted into law in 2015 when the conservative PP party held a majority. It was to be used in cases where a victim had had a particularly extreme death, such as child killings or cold-blooded assassinations. So far it has been applied only a handful of times.

With the PP losing its majority since the new law came in, Basque nationalist party PNV had asked for the sentence option to be removed.

Supporters of the move say that there is no evidence that the sentence reduces crime in a country with generally very low levels, while those in favour of the sentence point out that every country in Europe apart from Portugal and Croatia has a similar penalty.

Parents of murdered children, including the fathers of Diana Quer and Mari Luz Cortés, were in the chamber and had urged MPs to keep the sentence, but in the end the votes of the PP and centrist Ciudadanos were not enough to stop the start of the process to end the law.