High Court Judge Pablo Ruz has decided to call in the former Spanish law enforcement officers wanted in Argentina on torture charges stemming from the final years of the Francisco Franco dictatorship as soon as he receives a formal extradition request from the South American nation, judicial sources said Wednesday.
A Buenos Aires judge is seeking the extradition of four former officials but, according to court sources, Ruz has told Interpol that two of them have in fact died: Celso Galván, who served as a bodyguard to both King Juan Carlos and Franco, and former Police Commissioner José Ignacio Giralte González.
Galván died in 2009 while Giralte passed away two years earlier.
However, former Civil Guard officer Jesús Muñecas Aguilar, 74, and ex-inspector José Antonio González Pacheco, 67, known as “Billy the Kid,”will be summoned to appear before Ruz but they will not be arrested, the sources said. At a hearing, they will be asked whether they agree to the extradition request issued last week by Buenos Aires Judge María Servini de Cubría, who is investigating crimes and abuses committed during the Franco dictatorship (1939-1975) based on complaints and testimonies filed by victims and their families.
Spanish prosecutors have argued that the country’s 1977 Amnesty Law prevents charges from being filed
Judge Servini opened the inquiry based on the doctrine of universal justice.
Spanish prosecutors have argued that the country’s 1977 Amnesty Law prevents charges from being filed in relation to any crimes from that period, but human rights lawyers maintain that torture and human rights abuses cannot be shielded by any national law.
Argentina has filed a preliminary request for extradition with Interpol but will still need to draft a formal petition which must be presented to the High Court.
On Tuesday, Spanish prosecutors said that they saw no need to detain the men and argued that the statute of limitations on these purported crimes had run out.
Victims claim that the four former Civil Guard officials and police officers beat them after they were arrested as a result of various incidents from 1968 to 1973.