Congress acts to strip medals from Franco-era torturer

Franco-era torturer 'Billy el Niño' leaving criminal court after testimony in 2013. Archive photo: C. Álvarez / El País
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The left-of-centre majority on the governing executive Mesa of Spain’s new Congress has overturned a previous block by right-wing parties on efforts to rescind medals of honour, service awards and accompanying pension bonuses given to Franco-era police torturer Antonio González Pacheco, also known as Billy el Niño (“Billy the Kid”).

On Tuesday, the congressional Mesa of the new legislative session selected in December, when right-wing parties were relegated to holding just three of nine seats on the executive body, voted to require the Interior Ministry to make public a report compiled in 2018 with recommendations for the withdrawal of several medals and awards given González Pacheco. These include a silver medal awarded in 1977 for police merit, along with three additional awards from 1972, 1980 and 1982, which carried with them a 50 percent bonus in his retirement pension.

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According to Adriana Lastra, congressional spokesperson for the Socialist party (PSOE), new Historical Memory legislation proposed by the PSOE will not only facilitate the process of removing the awards and medals from González Pacheco, but will require the rescission of such awards for any Franco-era official involved in repression and violation of human rights.

“This is what the legislation says and this is what we will do,” Lastra said.


At the age of 20 in the mid 1960s, González Pacheco became a policeman at the service of the Franco dictatorship. In recent years, he has been repeatedly denounced for having overseen and participated in torture sessions at the head of a unit of the infamous Brigada Político-Social, charged with pursuing and extracting confessions from dissidents and opponents of the regime.

Provided immunity from prosecution under the 1977 Amnesty Law that was negotiated as part of Spain’s transition to democracy, González Pacheco received medals and awards, as well as accompanying pension bonuses for his police service, both during the years of dictatorship and well into the 1980s.

Calls to remove the medals and awards from the former policeman fell on deaf ears during the two consecutive administrations of former President Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Partido Popular. Last year, an executive Mesa of Spain’s Congress still dominated by the Partido Popular blocked efforts by the Socialist government of President Pedro Sánchez to make González Pacheco’s service record public with an eye to revoking his medals of honour and service awards.

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