Eleuterio Sánchez Rodríguez (born 15 April 1942), known as El Lute, was at one time listed as Spain's "Most Wanted" criminal. He was a legendary Spanish outlaw who escaped several times from prison after being convicted and sentenced at age 23 to 30 years for murder. While in prison, he learned to read, earned a law degree, and became a writer, continuing to protest his innocence of the charges. He was pardoned and released on June 20, 1981, at the age of 39.
Early life and education
Eleuterio Sánchez Rodríguez was born in 1942 in Salamanca, in Western Spain. He was born into a desperately poor merchero peasant family while his father was in prison. He never received any formal education as a child, and was illiterate.
As a young man, Sánchez stole two hens and was sentenced to six months in prison. Soon after his release, in 1965, he was arrested, convicted of murder and sentenced to death for the armed robbery of a jewellery store in Madrid, in which a security guard was killed. His sentence was commuted to 30 years in a military prison. Maintaining his innocence, Sánchez fought his conviction. During several escapes, he was listed by the police as Spain's "most wanted" criminal.
Although Sánchez entered prison as an illiterate peasant, he taught himself to read. He went on to earn a law degree, wrote five books, and continued his fight to clear his name. Sánchez was finally pardoned on June 20, 1981. Afterward he lived in Tomares with his second wife and her two children. He left the persona of El Lute behind.
In February 2006, he and his wife argued in the street in Punta Umbría over alleged infidelity. His wife told police he had abused her, and Sánchez was arrested. He was later released on bail temporarily. In April 2008, the court found him not guilty. The judge concluded that his ex-wife's accusations were not reliable.
Marriage and family
Sánchez married twice and was divorced twice.
- Camina o revienta (Forge on or Die) (1977), published while he was in prison.
- Mañana seré libre (Dawn of freedom) (1979)
- Una pluma entre rejas (A pen behind bars) (1981)
- In 1979, Eleuterio Sánchez's story was the subject of a hit single "El Lute" by Boney M. from the album Oceans of Fantasy.
- Sánchez was the subject of two films by Vicente Aranda (three chapters in the TV version) El Lute: Camina o revienta (1987) and El Lute II: Mañana seré libre (1988). Sánchez was played by Imanol Arias.
- "Spain Pardons Eleuterio Sanchez, The Murderer Known as El Lute", New York Times
- El Lute: "Me siento crucificado", El País, 19 March 2006.(Spanish)
- "El fiscal pide cárcel para El Lute por presunto maltrato a su esposa", El País, 19 October 2006. (Spanish)
- El Lute, absuelto de la acusación de maltrato a su ex-esposa, El País, April 2008. (Spanish)
- Eleuterio Sánchez: «Para unos fui un héroe y para otros fui una bestia», Karolina Almagia, KULTURA  (Spanish)