• Utrera Molina, under investigation on rights charges, lashes out at legislation
• Former minister signed 1974 garroting death warrants for anti-Franco activists
A former cabinet minister during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco who is under investigation by an Argentine judge for alleged human rights violations during his time in office, has lashed out at Spain’s 2007 Historical Memory Law (Ley de Memoria Histórica), claiming the legislation is producing incalculable “historic and moral damage” to Spain in an article reprinted by the Fundación Nacional Francisco Franco (FNFF), the non-governmental foundation that continues to support the ideology and honor the legacy of the Franco era.
José Utrera Molina, a member of the executive board of the FNFF and considered a leading ideologue of the Spanish Falange movement, served as a Franco cabinet minister from 1973 to 1975 and is the father-in-law of prominent Partido Popular (PP) politician Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, former President of the Madrid Community from 1995-2003, Mayor of Madrid from 2003-2011 and Spain’s Minister of Justice from 2011-2014 during the first administration of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Utrera Molina is one of 19 former Franco-era officials under investigation by Argentine Judge María de Servini on charges of human rights violations during the Franco regime. Servini, who is pursuing the case on the grounds of universal jurisdiction over cases filed with her court by relatives of the victims of Franquista repression both during and after Spain’s 1936-39 Civil War, would specifically like to question Utrera Molina in relation to his having ordered the March 1974 executions by garroting (slow strangulation) of 26-year-old Catalan anarchist and anti-fascist militant Salvador Puig Antich and German citizen Georg Michael Welzel, the last two individuals to be executed by garroting during the Franco era.
Utrera Molina’s criticism of Spain’s Historic Memory legislation comes as Servini’s efforts to question him and others are being systematically blocked by the office of Consuelo Madrigal, Spain’s Fiscal General (Attorney General), who last month sent a directive to local prosecutors nationwide advising them not to respond to any requests for information from Servini.
This week, the activist organisation Jueces para la Democracia (Judges for Democracy) called on Madrigal to stop producing obstacles to Servini’s investigation and to honor requests from the United Nations Working Group on Forced Disappearances that Spain undertake a full and complete accounting of human rights violations by forces loyal to Franco both during and after the Civil War.