Nearly fifty years after Franco’s death, Julio Pacheco on Friday became the first victim of torture under the dictatorship to be heard by a judge in Spain and now hopes that the time of “impunity” is over.

“Seeing a judge listen to you for the first time means that other complaints could be admitted and that we could finally get justice,” the 67-year-old retiree said, moved, to the press after his hearing. .

Welcomed by around thirty of his supporters with cries of “reparation, truth, justice”, he said he hoped to “break the wall of silence and impunity that exists with Francoism” in the country.

Member of an anti-Franco student organization, Julio Pacheco was 19 years old when he was arrested in Madrid by the secret police in August 1975, 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).

Tortured for several days at the General Directorate of Security in the famous Puerta del Sol square, according to his testimony, he was then sent to prison, accused of terrorism.

Forty-eight years after the events, this former printer filed a complaint in February against his four torturers, including the notorious ex-commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, famous in Spain for having recorded numerous political figures or economic circles without their knowledge.

And the judge in charge of the case took the opposite view of so many other magistrates before her by admitting this complaint in May because of “the possible existence” of “crimes against humanity and torture” in this case. .

It will now have to summon the accused and decide at the end of its investigation whether to refer them to court or to dismiss them without further action.

An encouraging sign for the progress of the legal procedure, according to Julio Pacheco and his lawyer, a member of the new special prosecutor’s office for human rights and democratic memory was present during the hearing which was held Friday behind closed doors.

This prosecution was created by a recent flagship law of the left-wing government, intended to rehabilitate the victims of Francoism.

If it is only a first step, Friday’s hearing is a victory for victims’ associations, according to which around a hundred complaints have in the past been rejected by the courts.

So far, despite the insistent requests of the United Nations, the Spanish justice system has stopped all the attempts of the victims of the dictatorship by invoking the limitation period of the facts but especially the amnesty law of 1977.

This pillar text of the transition to democracy, after the death of Franco on November 20, 1975, prevents the prosecution of any political offense committed during the dictatorship by opponents but also by “civil servants and agents maintaining public order”.

The famous magistrate Baltasar Garzon was himself prosecuted, and finally acquitted, for having attempted to open an investigation into the crimes of Francoism covered by this law.

To the great despair of victims, torturers have died and can never be prosecuted, such as a police officer nicknamed “Billy el Niño” (Billy the Kid) because of his habit of swinging his gun like a cowboy, who died in 2020 .

One of the people who accused “Billy the Kid” of torture is none other than Julio Pacheco’s wife, Rosa María García, 66, who was arrested like him in August 1975, but whose complaint was dismissed.

However, she was also heard on Friday, but as a witness, because one of the tortures to which her husband was subjected was to see her being tortured herself.

Faced with obstacles in Spain, victims’ associations turned to Argentina where magistrate Maria Servini invoked the principle of universal justice to open an investigation in 2010, still ongoing, for genocide and crimes against humanity during the Civil war and dictatorship.

As part of its investigations, in 2014 it launched twenty international arrest warrants against around twenty representatives of the Franco regime (ministers, judges, police officers) but was rejected by Madrid.

09/15/2023 16:46:40 –         Madrid (AFP) –         © 2023 AFP