Pardon for Paco Larrañaga?

Carlos Santamaria
Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo supports a petition to pardon the convicted rapist and murderer so he can go free in Spain and become a chef

MANILA, Philippines — Almost three years after his contested transfer to a Spanish prison, the case of convicted rapist and murderer Francisco “Paco” Larrañaga is still not yet closed, at least for Spain.

Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo on Tuesday, May 22, supported a petition launched by Spanish Sen Iñaki Anasagasti for Larrañaga to be pardoned by the Philippine government so he can be reinstated into society.

Garcia-Margallo told legislators that he supports a pardon because Paco deserves a chance to “get back his life” but insisted it is up to the Philippines to decide, according to various reports of Spanish news organizations.

Anasagasti is a senator for the PNV regional party, which seeks autonomy in Spain for the Basque Country, where Larrañaga’s Spanish father Manuel, a former pelotari, hails from.

Contacted by Rappler, the Department of Foreign Affairs said it was not aware of any new petition to pardon the convict and referred the matter to the Department of Justice, which did not reply to a request for comment.

Almost two years ago, then Spanish ombudsman Enrique Mugica formally requested the pardon when he attended the inauguration of President Benigno Aquino, but officially the case is closed.

Shady negotiations

Larrañaga and 6 co-defendants were convicted in 2004 for raping and murdering the Chiong sisters in Cebu in 1997 and sentenced to death by lethal injection.

But after the Philippines abolished the death penalty in 2006 and his sentence was commuted to life, he asked to be transfered to a prison in Spain, the native country of his father, to serve the remainder of his term.

After alleged shady negotiations between the two governments and ignoring the plight of the Chiong family, the transfer was finally approved in September 2009.

Larrañaga, born in 1977 and currently incarcerated in a prison in the north of Spain, is due to be released in the year 2039, when he will be 61 years old, but still hopes for a pardon and wants to become a chef.

Paco Larrañaga has dual Filipino-Spanish citizenship through his father, who married a member of the Osmeña clan in Cebu. But he was not issued a Spanish passport by the Spanish Consulate in Manila until a few days before his transfer to Spain in 2009 and while he was still behind bars in New Bilibid. – Rappler.com

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