Franco-era Torture Victim Testifies in Spanish Court for the First Time

Franco-era Torture Victim Testifies in Spanish Court for the First Time

Julio Pacheco Yepes, a victim who claims to have been tortured by the regime of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, testified before a Spanish court on Friday. This marks the first time since Franco’s death in 1975 that a victim of his regime has testified in court. Pacheco Yepes, who was 19 years old at the time of his arrest in August 1975, was detained for his involvement in a left-wing underground movement that opposed the regime. He alleges that he was tortured for several days before being jailed on charges of “terrorism.”

Pacheco Yepes filed a lawsuit against his four alleged torturers, including former police commissioner Jose Manuel Villarejo, who gained notoriety for spying on political and business elites in Spain. The case was admitted by judge Ana Maria Iguacel in May, who found “possible” evidence of “crimes against humanity and torture.” The hearing took place at a Madrid court, where Pacheco Yepes was questioned about his experience. Judge Iguacel also intends to summon the alleged torturers for questioning and has requested documents from the police and the National Archives.

While this hearing is just the first step, it is seen as a significant milestone by associations representing victims of the Franco regime. Previous attempts to file suits have been dismissed. Pacheco Yepes hopes that his testimony will contribute to breaking the wall of impunity surrounding the victims’ search for justice and encourage more open courts for future lawsuits.

In the past, Spanish courts have rejected lawsuits filed by Franco-era victims, citing an amnesty law passed in 1977 during Spain’s transition to democracy or the expiration of the time limit for filing criminal charges. The United Nations has called on Spain to revoke the amnesty law, which prevents the prosecution of not only political opponents but also “civil servants and public order agents” involved in crimes during the Franco regime.

Victims’ groups have faced legal obstacles in Spain and have turned to Argentina, where magistrate Maria Servini invoked the principle of “universal justice” in 2010 to investigate genocide and crimes against humanity during Spain’s civil war and dictatorship. However, Madrid has refused to cooperate with the investigation, despite international arrest warrants being issued for former Franco regime officials.

The outcome of Judge Iguacel’s investigation will determine whether the case will be dismissed or proceed to trial.


Author: CrimeDoor

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