The High Court has scheduled a public hearing for April 10 to determine whether Spain should extradite former police inspector Juan Antonio González Pacheco, alias “Billy the Kid,” who is wanted in Argentina for torture-related crimes he allegedly committed during the later years of the Francisco Franco regime.
The hearing will be held before a three-judge panel at the High Court’s criminal section chamber in San Fernando de Henares. The presiding judge will be Concepción Espejel, while magistrates Clara Bayarri and Julio de Diego will also participate in the session, which has been scheduled for 10am that day.
Last year, Buenos Aires Judge María Servini de Cubría issued an international arrest warrant for González Pacheco and former Civil Guard Jesús Muñecas Aguilar, who is also wanted for homicide, torture and illegal detention, in her ongoing investigation into crimes committed by former officials in the Franco dictatorship.
Servini opened the investigation based on the principle of universal justice after a group of individuals claimed they were victims of the two former law enforcement officials. The plaintiffs went to Argentina to seek justice after they met with resistance by Spanish courts to hear their complaints.
On January 31, prosecutors filed their opposition to González Pacheco’s extradition, saying that the statute of limitations has run out on the charges filed against him for actions that allegedly took place between 1968 and 1975. In any case, prosecutors stated, it was up to the Spanish justice system – not Argentina – to deal with the complaints filed against the two Spaniards.
“The Spanish courts have jurisdiction to investigate the incidents, which took place in Spanish territory, by Spanish citizens against Spaniards, who were victims,” wrote prosecutor Pedro Martínez Torrijos.
González Pacheco is wanted for allegedly torturing 13 people in Madrid jails
The High Court prosecutor has not taken a position in the Muñecas Aguilar case.
Last December, González Pacheco, 67, and Muñecas, 74, appeared before High Court Judge Pablo Ruz, who confiscated their passports and ordered them to remain in Spain after the two officially declined to voluntarily travel to Argentina to answer to the charges. Their lawyers argued that their clients were protected by the 1977 amnesty law.
González Pacheco is wanted for allegedly torturing 13 people in Madrid jails Yesería and Carabanchel. He picked up the nickname of Billy the Kid because he is reported to have had a habit of spinning his firearm on his finger in an intimidating manner, the victims claimed.
At least 17 complaints had been filed in Spanish courts against the former police inspector.
González Pacheco had once faced charges in Spain in connection with the 1977 massacre of five left-wing lawyers during a notorious attack at a law firm near Atocha railway station. Four others were injured in the incident. But Billy the Kid was never convicted because his defense team had successfully argued that he was protected by the terms of the Amnesty Law that was passed that same year.