• Argentine judge’s request blocked by Justice Ministry, says victims’ group
• Judge wants to interview 19 Franco-era officials for crimes against humanity
Spain’s Justice Ministry has reportedly chosen to ignore a request by Argentine judge Maria Servini to interview 19 former government officials over extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses during and immediately after Spain’s Franco dictatorship, including the death of five protesters during the violent police repression of a labour strike in Vitoria in March 1976.
Servini, whose previous request to have the 19 officials extradited to Argentina to stand trial for crimes against humanity was rejected by Spain, in February requested permission to interview the officials during a visit to Spain slated for the first week of April. The Argentine judge is investigating the officials under the legal concept of universal jurisdiction on human rights issues and requested assistance in interviewing the Franco-era officials as per the mutual Treaty on Extradition and Judicial Assistance in Penal Matters, signed by Spain and Argentina in 1987.
According a Basque victims’ rights group representing family members of the workers killed in Vitoria, La Plataforma Vasca para la Querella contra los Crímenes del Franquismo, Servini’s visit to Spain to interview the former officials was postponed after her request was effectively blocked by Spain’s Justice Ministry, which has refused to acknowledge or forward the matter for consideration to the Audiencia Nacional, the highest court in Spain empowered to deal with international legal matters.