Alfonso Armada, one of the leaders of the failed 1981 coup

General had been an important advisor to King Juan Carlos during the years leading up to democracy

Alfonso Armada Comyn, pictured in 2011.
Alfonso Armada Comyn, pictured in 2011. LUIS SEVILLANO

Former General Alfonso Armada Comyn, one of the main architects of the military coup against the Spanish government on February 23, 1981, died Sunday in Madrid at the age of 93.

Armada planned to take over as head of the government before Congress, which had been taken over by a group of civil guards led by Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero who were holding lawmakers hostage at gunpoint.

The coup was so badly organized that Tejero, who was ignorant of Armada's plans, refused to allow him to proceed. Arrested after the failed coup, Armada went on trial and was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in jail. He was pardoned in 1988 and subsequently lived out the rest of his life quietly in Madrid.

He was born into a military family that was pro-monarchy on February 12, 1920. He joined the rebel forces of General Francisco Franco against the Republican government in 1936 and later served with the Blue Division, which fought on the eastern front in World War II.

He was brought back to Madrid by Franco to form part of a group of tutors of the then Prince Juan Carlos. After a number of years in different posts, Armada was appointed an aide to Juan Carlos in 1965 and secretary general of the Royal Household when he became king. Armada left in 1977 when Spain was preparing its transition to a return to democracy and opposed many of the plans of then Prime Minister Adolfo Suárez, who oversaw that transition.

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