Prosecutors in Spain seek probe of Franco-era torture claim

AFP - [email protected]
Prosecutors in Spain seek probe of Franco-era torture claim
Franco dictatorship victims Julio Pacheco Yepes (2L) and his wife Rosa María García Alcón (2R) hold a banner depicting photographs of other victims outside the courthouse in Madrid on September 15, 2023. (Photo by Pierre-Philippe MARCOU / AFP)

Spanish public prosecutors requested Thursday that a court investigate a claim filed by a trade unionist who says he was tortured by police during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.


Amnesty International hailed the announcement as "very positive and important", saying it was the first time prosecutors had called for a probe into torture and crimes against humanity.


The move came nearly a year after Spain's left-wing government passed a democratic memory law to tackle the legacy of the 1936-39 Civil War and the ensuing dictatorship, and honour victims of violence and persecution under Franco.

The call by the public prosecutors office could set a precedent since until recently, the courts have rejected lawsuits filed by victims, saying they fell under a 1977 amnesty law or that the time limit for filing criminal charges had passed.

But this time, prosecutor's said the complaint -- filed in November by a trade unionist who says he was tortured at a Barcelona police station in the early 1970s to extract information about his activities -- should be investigated.

They justified the request saying the democratic memory law, which came into force in October 2022, had created a new legal framework for such cases.

Just months before the death of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, Julio Pacheco Yepes says he was arrested and tortured by police for belonging to a left-wing underground movement that opposed the regime. (Photo by Pierre-Philippe MARCOU / AFP)


The law requires judges "to investigate alleged violations of human rights" that occurred "during the civil war and the dictatorship," it said in a statement, calling for a probe "into the facts" alleged by the trade unionist and "their context".

Amnesty International's Daniel Canales said it was "the first time that the public prosecutor's office is in favour of initiating an investigation of this type.


"This is an important development... which we hope will result in the admission of (the) complaint and the start of an investigation," he said in a video response on X, formerly Twitter.

Last week, 67-year-old Julio Pacheco Yepes, who also says he was arrested and tortured by the Franco regime, testified before a Spanish court for the first time since the dictator's death in 1975.

In a first, the judge decided to admit the case on grounds it contained "possible" evidence of "crimes against humanity and torture", paving the way for his court appearance.

But in his case, there was no call by public prosecutors to investigate the allegations.

Over the years, around 100 lawsuits have been filed over alleged torture during the Franco era, but none was ever admitted, victims' associations say.

Victims welcomed the passage of the democratic memory law in the hope it would pave the way for a probe into human rights violations under Franco.

But critics on the right have accused Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's leftist government of seeking to re-open the wounds of the past.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also