Spain to strip Franco-era police officers of honours
Spain’s leftist government said Friday it will strip decorations awarded to police officers involved in state repression during the right-wing dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.
Franco ruled Spain with an iron fist from the end of the country’s 1936-39 civil war until his death in 1975, marking one of Europe’s longest dictatorships.
Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska ordered police forces to make the move to comply with a new law focused on the historical impact of the leader, the interior ministry said in a statement.
The Democratic Memory Law aims to tackle the legacy of Franco’s 1939-1975 dictatorship and the three-year civil war that preceded it, including measures honouring those who suffered persecution or violence under his rule.
It calls for the withdrawal of honours from police officers involved in “events incompatible with democratic values and the principles of respect for human rights,” the interior ministry statement said.
These decorations allowed police officers who were awarded them to collect higher pensions.
The statement did not say how many officers would have medals or other honours removed as a result of the law, which came into effect in October.
Among those reportedly affected is Juan Antonio Gonzalez Pacheco, a notorious former Madrid police inspector known as “Billy the Kid” who died in 2020 of Covid-19.
He is accused of torturing prisoners during Franco’s rule.
Officers targeted by the measure will be given the opportunity to present “defences” before a final decision is made, the statement said.
Honouring those who died or suffered violence or repression during the war and decades of dictatorship that followed has been a top priority for Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez since he came to power in 2018.
In 2019, he had Franco’s remains removed from a vast grandiose mausoleum near Madrid and transferred to a discreet family plot.