Case finally closed on 1995 terrorist kidnap victim Publio Cordón

Three former GRAPO members detained after 17-year kidnapping investigation ends

An archive photograph of Publio Cordón, kidnapped in 1995. / EFE

The mystery surrounding the kidnapping and death of a businessman named Publio Cordón in 1995 has been solved, according to the authorities.

The Civil Guard on Thursday arrested three former members of GRAPO, a terrorist group with Maoist ideas that was mostly active in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Law enforcement officers made the arrests in Seville and Cádiz, and also located the house in Lyon, France where the victim was held, the Interior Ministry said.

“The case has been solved,” said Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz, who explained that the entrepreneur from Zaragoza was kept inside a closet with a lock and chain and that he died after falling from the first floor while trying to escape.

The detainees are Vicente Sarasa Cecilio, José Antonio Ramón Teijelo and Manuela Ontanilla Galán, three veteran members of the First of October Anti-Fascist Resistance Groups, or GRAPO, which has assassinated 84 people. Its last victim died in 2006.

The raid was carried out by a Civil Guard unit that for several years has been exclusively dedicated to the case. Fernández Díaz explained in Congress that Cordón broke his chains on day 15 or 16 of his captivity, and tried to escape. Afraid that he would be discovered, he rushed down to the first floor, lost his balance and fell, dying some time later.

Fernández Díaz also said that the arrests were made possible through the cooperation of a protected witness. All that is left to do is find the body, although it is believed to have been buried in Mont Ventoux, a mountain in southern France. The minister said he hoped that these arrests will lead to some clues as to the exact whereabouts of Cordón’s body.

Cordón broke his chains, tried to escape but fell and sustained fatal injuries

Spanish and French police worked together to locate the house, where they found traces, including Cordón’s DNA and handmade marks inside the closet indicating the number of days that he was locked up inside.

“I’m really affected by this,” Cordón’s widow, Pilar Muro, told Europa Press. “I always said that I trusted in the Civil Guard’s work. They always gave me hope, telling me that they were still investigating. These last few months I had no hope of learning anything more about the kidnapping; I was feeling very low. It’s been a long time, but this gives me renewed strength.”

Cordón, founder of the insurance company Previasa and the Hospital Group Quirón, was kidnapped on June 27, 1995 when he was jogging near his home in Zaragoza. Six weeks later, his family paid the kidnappers 400 million pesetas (over 2.4 million euros) in Paris, but Cordón was never seen again.

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