Spain’s High Court has turned down a request by an Argentinean judge to extradite former Franco-regime police inspector Juan Antonio González Pacheco, also known as “Billy the Kid.” The court said that the 13 counts of torture against him could not be considered crimes against humanity because they did not form part of “a systematic and organized attack on a group of the population.”
If they had been considered genocide, the charges, which relate to events that took place between February 1971 and September 1975, would have carried no statute of limitations. But the fact that they have been classified as torture means they are subject to a 10-year expiry date, which has now been exceeded.
The torture charges relate to events that took place between February 1971 and September 1975
With the decision, the Spanish justice has closed the door on the investigation into crimes committed during Spain’s 1939-1975 dictatorship begun by Argentinean Judge María Servini de Cubría under the principle of universal justice. On Friday the High Court also turned down her request to extradite former Civil Guard captain Jesús Muñecas Aguilar, aka Captain Muñecas, who is also wanted in connection with torture charges committed during the dictatorship.
The case has been brought in Buenos Aires by relatives of Franco’s victims after they ran into a legal dead end back in Spain, where the Civil War (1936-1939) and subsequent dictatorship are still sensitive matters and have yet to be investigated in the courts.
The High Court decision also ruled out that the charges of torture attributed to the ex-police officer “maintain any relation to the murders and forced disappearances circumscribed in the Argentinean proceedings, which were perpetrated after July 17, 1936.”