Accusations against Franco regime crimes: a countdown

  • Jesus Mari Txurruka was to make his declaration at Bergara municipal court in Gipuzkoa last Saturday, the 20th of January. His grandfather's brother died in a Hamburg concentration camp in 1945; Franco's forces had killed his great-grandmother in cold blood nine years earlier at her farmstead at Elgeta in the Basque Country. But Jesus Mari is not going to make any such declaration. And nor are the other 13 victims' relatives who should have done so in January.

Urko Apaolaza Avila @urkoapaolaza
2018ko urtarrilaren 26a
(Photo: Emeek Emana / Mauro Saravia)

Maider Imaz, a temporary judge at Bergara court, accepted an accusation about Franco’s forces' crimes in Elgeta. Her historical decision caused a stir, being the first small opening in the Spanish justice system for the savagery of 80 years ago to be brought to trial.

But hope was to be short-lived, and full-timejudge Hugo Jacobo Calzon Mahia closed the case. The reasons were the same as always: The Spanish Amnesty Law of 1977 does not allow investigation into those crimes, and they are considered to have lapsed. The Basque Anti-Franco Accusation Platform believes that there was a “political hand” behind the change. Josu Ibargutxi, the platform's spokesperson, explained on the radio that all public prosecutors use the same, obvious "copy and paste" methods. Recently another court did the same thing with an accusation against the people who ordered the Durango bombardment in 1937.

The victims' associations have requested international agreements about human rights crimes be taken into account in order to overcome the Spanish legal wall, the former not having lapsed. Genocide is the deliberate elimination of a people, according to those agreements.

At Elgeta in October, 1936, the people in favour of the democratic republic were surprisingly able to hold up Franco's forces advance and form a front. Vengeance against local people was savage, with 33 townspeople being killed. Anttoni Telleria's case was one of the worst, who was raped while killing her parents before her; but all of those killings, fines and measure of repression were systematic and deliberate.

The killers are dying out, but the State's underlying responsibility is still there. The problem is that it is increasingly difficult to find witnesses and prove the truth as time goes on, and justice can only follow behind the truth.

Jesus Mari Txurruka got his great-uncle's watch back from Germany, where the Nazis had confiscated it in 1944. The glass was broken, but its hands still move forwards on the wall at Elgeta Memory Museum. 

 

This article was translated by 11itzulpen; you can see the original in Basque here.

Kanal hauetan artxibatua: English  |  Oroimen historikoa  |  Frankismoa  |  Elgeta  |  Fusilatuen bila

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