JUSTICE

Father of missing Córdoba kids tells murder trial he did not drug them

José Bretón takes the stand on the second day of his murder trial

José Bréton attends court on the second day of his murder trial in Córdoba on Tuesday.
José Bréton attends court on the second day of his murder trial in Córdoba on Tuesday.REUTERS

On the second day of the trial of José Bretón for the alleged murder of his two young children in Córdoba in 2011, the accused took to the stand to answer questions surrounding the disappearance of Ruth Bretón, aged six, and her two-year-old brother José.

“I am a calm person, I do not get angry easily and I have no problems with my family,” Bretón told the court, stressing his good relationship with his children and always referring to them in the present tense. “I was unemployed but I had the luxury of being able to raise my children. When \[the children’s mother Ruth\] Ortiz was at work I fed them and played on the floor with them. I am a good father who loves his children, they are not afraid of me and I love them like crazy.”

Bretón was quizzed about the anti-anxiety drugs he had been prescribed, which the prosecution believes he used to kill the youngsters before burning their bodies in a home-made incinerator. “I bought the pills because my doctor told me if I was nervous or anxious, I should take them. But as I wasn’t, I threw them away. I can’t remember when.” However, the prosecutor reminded Bretón that on October 31, 2011 he told investigators that he had taken them on a trip to the seaside resort of Motril in Andalusia.

The accused also spoke of his relationship with his wife, who is due to testify on Wednesday. The prosecution’s case is based on the investigators’ belief that Bretón killed Ruth and José in an act of revenge against Ortiz, who was planning to leave him. “I never thought about separating. She was the person I trusted the most. But I saw that it couldn’t be that way.”

He said that after Ortiz had left him he saw a psychiatrist and a psychologist. “They say that I have obsessions. But it is only washing my hands before I eat.”

During a reconstruction of the day he was looking after his children, October 8, Bretón said he had filled up his car with gasoline several times. “The car uses up a lot,” he said. Asked by the prosecution whether he had fuel stored at the semi-rural property owned by his parents, Bretón answered that he had used it all in his car.

The judge then asked why he had filled up his car in Huelva, where he collected Ruth and José, and then refilled it in Córdoba, a 237-kilometer drive away. At this stage of the proceeding, Bretón’s answers became indirect.

Police believe that Bretón burned the bodies of his children in a fire at his parent’s property on October 8. He had spent the entire previous day at the property. The premises were rigorously searched and samples taken from the fire Bretón had started. Initially, forensic investigators considered bone fragments found therein to be of animal origin, but 10 months later they were reclassified as human, and belonging to two children of the same ages as Ruth and José.

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