Franco-era cop accused of torture has four medals that fatten his pension by 50%

Interior Ministry finds that “Billy the Kid” was rewarded by the state despite accusations that he physically abused prisoners

Natalia Junquera
‘Billy the Kid’ outside the High Court in 2014.
‘Billy the Kid’ outside the High Court in 2014.SAMUEL SÁNCHEZ

Antonio González Pacheco, a retired police officer who has been accused of torturing prisoners under former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, has four government medals that have increased his retirement pension by 50%.

An Interior Ministry report on the man known popularly as “Billy El Niño” (Billy the Kid) shows that he received his first distinction in 1972 and the last one in 1982.

In 2013, a court in Argentina issued an international arrest warrant for González Pacheco

The report was commissioned by the new interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, in response to a request by the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) to strip González Pacheco of his 1977 medal.

That investigation has revealed that the former police officer, who is now 72, has not one but four medals, each one increasing his retirement pension by between 10 and 15%.

The 1972 medal was awarded by the Franco government and raised his pension by 10%. The second one was bestowed by the transitional government of Adolfo Suárez, who rewarded González Pacheco for securing the release of a government official and a lieutenant general who had been kidnapped by the terrorist group GRAPO between late 1976 and early 1977. This increased his pension by a further 15%.

González Pacheco received a third medal in October 1980 (10%) and a fourth in March 1982 (15%). This latter one was bestowed on the entire Information Brigade that he was attached to, and the ex-police officer had to resort to the courts to receive the money, a fact that is complicating the current attempt at stripping him of his honors.

“I thought he was going to kill me”

In 2013, a court in Argentina issued an international arrest warrant for González Pacheco and former Civil Guard Jesús Muñecas Aguilar, who was also wanted for homicide, torture and illegal detention, in an investigation into crimes committed by former officials in the Franco dictatorship.

Buenos Aires Judge María Servini de Cubría opened the investigation based on the principle of universal justice after a group of individuals claimed they had been 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.

He picked up the nickname of Billy the Kid because of his habit of spinning his firearm on his finger

Court records show that the plaintiffs made the following statements about Billy El Niño: “He gave me such a beating that I thought he was going to kill me” (Miguel Ángel Gómez). “He punched me in the head and the back” (Francisca Villar, arrested at age 18). “He hit me really hard in the genital area” (Jesús Rodríguez).

The extradition request was rejected because of a statute of limitations on the alleged crimes that took place between 1968 and 1975. But González Pacheco was summoned to testify at Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, in 2014.

A 1964 law established that recipients of state medals must exhibit “the virtues of patriotism, loyalty and will to serve in the highest degree.” Before the new Socialist administration of Pedro Sánchez took office three weeks ago, the ARMH had filed a petition to know what merits Billy el Niño had to deserve his pension increase. The reply from the director general of the national police was that providing that kind of information would put the affected party “in a state of constant insecurity and anxiety.”

González Pacheco 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, according to victims.

English version by Susana Urra.

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