Argentine judge issues arrest warrants for 4 Francoist officials

September 22, 2013
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Darío Rivas, one of the Spanish plaintiffs in the Argentine case against Francoist criminals. Photo Eilís O'Neill.

Darío Rivas, one of the Spanish plaintiffs in the Argentine case against Francoist criminals. Photo Eilís O’Neill.

On September 18, the Argentine judge María Servini de Cubría requested the extradition of four Franco-era officials accused of torture. The order is the first arrest warrant issued for those suspected of committing crimes against humanity during Spain’s forty-year dictatorship since the country passed an amnesty law in 1977.

The four accused are Jesús Muñecas Aguilar, a former member of the Civil Guard; Celso Galván Abascal, one of Francisco Franco’s former bodyguards; and Juan Antonio González Pacheco and José Ignacio Giralte González, former members of the Brigada Político-Social, the arm of the Spanish police responsible for political repression during the dictatorship. The Spanish newspaper El Diario published details about the men and their alleged crimes.

As a result of Judge Servini’s arrest order, the four accused face detention by Interpol if they attempt to leave Spain. In Argentina, their alleged crimes would carry sentences of eight to twenty-five years in prison (see Artículo 144 ter of Argentina’s Penal Code).

On Friday, the Spanish Minister of Justice, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, said Spain will look into the extradition request. The lawyers for the prosecution said six months would be a reasonable time period to process the request.

The international human rights organization Amnesty International has expressed support for the extradition of the accused. If Spain chooses not to cooperate with the request, AI said in a press release, the country “is obligated to proceed with the investigation of the crimes in its own courts of justice.”

 

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