The Spanish government has revealed that a man accused of being a notorious torturer under former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco enjoys an extra-large pension thanks to medals awarded for services to the country.
An Interior Ministry report on Antonio González Pacheco, a former police officer who liked to play with his gun during interrogations and gained the nickname of “Billy El Niño” (Billy the Kid), shows that he received four decorations between 1972 and 1982, the last coming seven years after the death of Franco.
The fact that the 72-year-old Mr González Pacheco, who served Franco’s notorious socio-political police brigade, possesses these medals means that his state pension as a retired officer is boosted by 50 per cent – despite his allegedly dark past.
Spain’s socialist government, which came to power less than a month ago, commissioned an internal investigation in response to request by the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) to strip the alleged torturer of a medal he was awarded in 1977.
A petition demanding that the former policeman be stripped of his medals has been signed by 250,000 people.
Last month, the leader of the Left-wing party, Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, cried in Congress as he read out an account of an act of alleged torture by Mr González Pacheco against a woman. Mr Iglesias criticised the then-government of former conservative prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, for not agreeing to strip the former policeman of the 1977 decoration.
In 2013, a court in Argentina issued an international arrest warrant for Mr González Pacheco and a former civil guard, Jesús Muñecas Aguilar, in connection with cases of alleged murder, torture and illegal detention as part of an investigation into crimes committed by former officials in the Franco dictatorship.
Buenos Aires Judge María Servini de Cubría opened the investigation based on the principle of universal justice after a group of individuals took their complaints abroad when Spanish courts cited the country’s post-Franco amnesty law as a barrier against possible prosecution.
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Spain’s high court refused to extradite the two men, who were called to testify in 2014. The Spanish judges concluded that the offences had elapsed as they were allegedly committed more than 30 years previously, dismissing the idea that they could be considered crimes against humanity.
Rosa García Alcon was arrested and tortured in August 1975 when she was an 18-year-old student activist in Madrid.
“What I remember most was his mouth, which was very big and approached my face and shouted at me… More than terror it made me feel disgust. He smelt very bad; it was horrible. I don’t remember him asking me anything, just that he beat me like a madman,” she said in her complaint against Billy the Kid, published by eldiario.es.
“He called me bitch, whore. He was very disrespectful to women, very sexist. And he enjoyed using terror.”
Spain’s interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, said on Tuesday that he will now examine the procedures for withdrawing the medals from Mr González Pacheco.