NewsEuropeIn Spain, a victim of Francoism is heard for the first time...

    In Spain, a victim of Francoism is heard for the first time by justice

    Almost fifty years after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco, a Spanish magistrate has heard for the first time the testimony of a victim of the dictatorship’s torture. This is a historical fact, since until now the Spanish courts had always rejected complaints against the crimes of Franco’s regime, based on an amnesty law approved after the restoration of democracy.

    Truth, justice and reparation. These victims’ demands, to which the Spanish courts have long turned a deaf ear, are now being heard. On Friday, September 15, almost fifty years after Franco’s death and forty-five years after the definitive end of the dictatorship and the approval of the Constitution, Julio Pacheco became the first victim of Franco’s torture to be heard. by a judge in Spain. He hopes that the time of “impunity” has come to an end.

    Read Also:   British police have arrested a suspect in the deaths of three people in Nottingham

    “Seeing that a judge listens to you for the first time means that other complaints could be accepted and that we could finally obtain justice,” the 67-year-old pensioner told the press after his hearing.

    Received by about thirty of his supporters shouting “reparation, truth, justice,” he said he hoped to “break the wall of silence and impunity that exists with Franco’s regime” in the country.

    Crimes against humanity finally considered

    August 1975. A member of an anti-Franco student organization, Julio Pacheco, 19, was arrested in Madrid by the secret police, three months before the death of the “Caudillo”, who had ruled the country with an iron fist since his victory in the Civil War (1936-1939).

    Read Also:   Italy: the square in Rome where Julius Caesar was assassinated is now accessible to tourists

    According to his testimony, he was tortured for several days in the General Directorate of Security, in the famous Puerta del Sol in Madrid, and then sent to prison accused of terrorism.

    Almost five decades after the events, this former printer filed a complaint in February against his four torturers, among them the sulfurous former commissioner Jose Manuel Villarejo, famous in Spain for having recorded numerous political and business figures without their knowledge.

    For the first time, the judge in charge of the case went against the grain of so many other judges who preceded her by admitting the complaint for processing in May due to the “possible existence” in the case of “crimes against humanity and torture.”

    Read Also:   Italy: The tourist who engraved his name on the Colosseum "did not know it was an old monument"

    It was the first time this possibility had been raised. Until now, the courts had established that it was not the usual practice of Franco’s authorities to systematically torture prisoners, which is why they considered that these were not crimes against humanity.

    Julio Pacheco Yepes, victim of the Franco dictatorship, at the doors of the Madrid courts before his hearing on September 15, 2023. © Pierre-Philippe Marcou, AFP

    Complaints blocked until now by the 1977 amnesty law

    In Spain, despite insistent requests from the UN, the courts have so far stopped all attempts by the victims of the dictatorship, alleging the statute of limitations and, above all, the 1977 amnesty law.

    Initially, this law, designed to amnesty political prisoners, did not prevent the prosecution of crimes committed, but the courts have interpreted it restrictively and have refused to open trials against Franco’s criminals.

    In 2010, investigative judge Baltasar Garzon, famous for tracking down former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, was himself suspended for investigating the disappearance of civilians during the Franco regime.

    The victims of the Franco dictatorship, who were never recognized as such under the rule “neither winners nor losers” introduced by the 1977 law, have never stopped demanding justice.

    “Abandoning the victims of Franco’s regime, as has been done until now, is a breach of the duties of a rule of law, a breach of the obligations of a judge,” Baltasar Garzon, former judge of the National Court, told France Culture. , the highest Spanish court. “I could not prosecute crimes against humanity, genocides, acts of torture committed under the Argentine and Chilean dictatorships, having arrested Pinochet in London, but say that nothing had happened here (in Spain), when I had the opportunity to investigate crimes Similar”.

    In 2007, the socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero approved a historical memory law to remove symbols and monuments alluding to Francoism from public spaces, and to help victims search for the bodies of their loved ones in the hundreds of mass graves. that exist in Spain. However, this law was never applied after the arrival, four years later, of the conservative Mariano Rajoy.

    His party, the Popular Party (PP), opposed a reform of the amnesty law in March 2018, which was effectively annulled by the Spanish Congress. “As far as we are concerned, this is an issue that has been resolved for a long time. Our position on the matter is that the Spanish have other priorities. They are interested in their present and their future,” Francisco Martinez Vazquez then declared to Radio France, Madrid deputy of the PP. “The Government and parliamentarians must work and not reopen stories of clashes between Spaniards, which belong to the past.”

    Today, in the case of Julio Pacheco, Judge Ana Maria Iguacel is expected to summon the accused and, at the end of her investigation, decide whether the case is referred to the courts or archived.

    For Julio Pacheco and his lawyer, the presence at the hearing of a member of the new Special Prosecutor for Human Rights and Democratic Memory is an encouraging sign for the advancement of the judicial process.

    This prosecutor’s office was created by a recent emblematic law of the left-wing Government of Pedro Sanchez, current president of the interim Government, aimed at rehabilitating the victims of Franco’s regime.

    Since October 2022 there is a law to rehabilitate victims of Franco’s regime

    Although it is only a first step, Julio Pacheco’s hearing represents a victory for victims’ associations, who denounce that a hundred complaints have been rejected by the courts in the past.

    Present in court during Julio Pacheco’s hearing, the Spanish branch of Amnesty International declared in a statement that it wanted to “call on the judicial, legislative and executive powers, as well as the prosecutor’s office, to adopt all necessary measures and essential for this exceptional event to become something common”.

    But some torturers have died and can never be prosecuted, such as a police officer nicknamed “Billy the Kid” for his habit of twirling his gun like a cowboy, who died in 2020.

    One of the people who has accused “Billy the Kid” of torture is none other than Julio Pacheco’s wife, Rosa Maria Garcia, 66, who was arrested like him in August 1975, but whose complaint was dismissed. She was also heard on Friday, but as a witness, because one of the tortures to which her husband was subjected was seeing how she herself was tortured.

    Faced with the obstacles in Spain, the victims’ associations turned to Argentina, where Judge Maria Servini invoked the principle of universal jurisdiction to open an investigation in 2010, which is still ongoing, into genocide and crimes against humanity during the Civil War and the dictatorship. Spanish.

    Universal jurisdiction means that a State has jurisdiction to prosecute and judge a crime even if it was not committed in its territory, it was committed by a foreign person against a foreign victim and they were not the victim of the crime.

    As part of her investigations, in 2014 the Argentine judge issued around twenty international arrest warrants against around twenty representatives of the Franco regime (ministers, judges, police officers), but they were rejected by Madrid.

    This article has been adapted from its French original.

    Source: France 24

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here

    7 − 3 =

    Subscribe & Get Latest News