Spain ex-minister fights charges of post Franco killings

13th November 2014, Comments 0 comments

A Spanish former minister accused of involvement in killings in the aftermath of the Franco dictatorship said Thursday he was willing to defend himself against the charges before a judge.

A judge in Argentina this month issued arrest and extradition warrants for 20 Spanish ex-officials including Rodolfo Martin Villa, who was a senior member of Franco's regime and interior minister just after the dictator's death.

"I want to testify to the judge," possibly in writing or by videolink from Spain, Martin, 79, told radio station Onda Cero on Thursday, in his first public reaction to the warrants.

Martin is accused of ordering a police raid on protesting workers outside a church in the Basque city of Vitoria in 1976 which left five people dead.

"I could not have been responsible for the deeds I am accused of," he said.

"I was not in command of the police.

"Servini issued the warrants invoking "universal jurisdiction", a legal doctrine that authorises judges to try the most serious crimes committed in other countries.

After Franco's death in 1975, Spanish leaders signed an amnesty agreement to avoid a spiral of score-settling as they tried to unite the country and steer it to democracy.

Spanish authorities still invoke the amnesty law in refusing to investigate alleged atrocities from the Franco era, despite demands by the United Nations that it be scrapped.

Servini last year issued warrants for two former policemen accused of torture, but the Spanish courts refused to extradite them.

Martin said however: "Hiding behind the barricade by refusing extradition is something I will never do.

"I will not defend myself on the grounds that the statute of limitations has expired.

Nor will I invoke the amnesty law.

I am not covered by the amnesty and I have not committed any crime.

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© 2014 AFP

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