Argentine judge wants to question 19 Franco-era officials on rights abuses, crimes against humanity

Former Franco-era officials José Utrera Molina (left) and Rodolfo Martín Villa. Photo: EFE / El Confidencial

• Judge Servini brings Franco-era rights investigation to Spain next month •

Argentine judge Maria Servini has filed a request with the Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s highest court with jurisdiction over international crimes, to allow her to question 19 former Franco-era officials during a visit to Spain next month as part of her ongoing investigation into alleged human rights abuses and crimes against humanity committed before, during and immediately after Spain’s 36-year Franco dictatorship.

The request from Servini includes the names of high-ranking former Franco government officials Rodolfo Martín Villa, a Spanish Interior Minister considered responsible for the police shooting deaths of five workers and the injury of more than 100 others during a labour strike in Vitoria in March 1976, as well as José Utrera Molina, co-signatory of the order of execution by garroting (strangulation) of a 25-year-old Catalan anarchist, who was charged and convicted by a military court in 1974 for the murder of a Civil Guard officer.

An extradition request from Servini to have the former Franco officials stand trial in Argentina was rejected by the Spanish government last year. The Argentine judge is investigating the former Franco-era officials under the concept of universal jurisdiction on human rights issues and because charges cannot be filed in Spain against those suspected of rights abuses or related crimes under Franco due to a 1977 Amnesty Law passed two years after the former dictator’s death.

► Read More in Spanish at El Mundo and El Confidencial …

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