Editorials
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The Emilio Hellín case

The Interior Ministry’s employment of a convicted criminal calls for a full investigation

The discovery by a journalist that a murderer and ex-convict is working for the National Police and the Civil Guard produces a profound feeling of unease . In 1980 Emilio Hellín Moro, a member of the violent far-right group Fuerza Nueva, kidnapped and killed a 19-year-old girl, Yolanda González, because of her supposed — and false — connection with ETA. He was later sentenced to 43 years in prison for that murder, which produced huge public indignation in the years of the transition to democracy after Franco’s death, when ETA terrorism was at its height, and ultra-right groups were notoriously infiltrated into the police forces.

Having spent 14 years in prison, Hellín changed his name, so as to freely exercise his profession as a computer expert — which is reasonable and legitimate in a democratic system where the aim is toward the criminal’s social rehabilitation. What calls for an investigation, and for the clarification of exactly who is responsible, is the work the former gunman is now doing for the police in the struggle against organized crime, which includes access to confidential data.

Hellín always boasted of his hand-in-glove relations with the police. David Martínez Loza, who as a ranking member of Fuerza Nueva ordered the murder of Yolanda González, was a civil guard on prolonged leave of absence, and Hellín himself was staying in the house of a police inspector when his crime came to light.

There is, then, a certain inevitability about the suspicions raised by this case, which takes us back to one of the darkest periods in the recent history of the Spanish police, particularly when it follows upon similar episodes in the past. Because it had to be the press, too, that 20 years ago opened the eyes of the Spanish police to the fact that Hellín was living and working in Paraguay, where he had gone after escaping from a Spanish prison.

The first official reactions have, however, been disappointing. We are apparently given to understand that no one in the police forces had any idea of the real identity of the man who was working for the Interior Ministry — which would seem to indicate a situation of extreme negligence, an absence of filters in an area that affects state security.

Pathetic, too, are the explanations offered by the secretary of state for security, Francisco Martínez, playing down the seriousness of the matter, alleging that Hellín is just another person in the company he owns — whose contract, moreover, dates from the time of the previous Socialist government.

This is a flimsy excuse, ludicrously attempting to give the matter a political slant, and shuffle the blame on to a higher ministerial level, below whose radar the daily workings of the police take place. It certainly does nothing to inspire public confidence in our police forces. This disturbing situation surely requires a more satisfying explanation at the highest level.

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