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Judge confiscates passports of two Franco-era security officers wanted in Argentina

Extradition proceedings begin for “Billy the Kid” and former Civil Guard official accused of torture

A former member of the security forces during the Franco dictatorship, ex-civil guard Jesús Muñecas Aguilar, 77, leaves the High Court in Madrid. Ampliar foto
A former member of the security forces during the Franco dictatorship, ex-civil guard Jesús Muñecas Aguilar, 77, leaves the High Court in Madrid. AFP

Two former security officials during the Franco dictatorship, who are wanted in Argentina on torture charges, were ordered on Thursday to remain in Spain while a High Court judge weighs evidence for their extradition.

Former police inspector Antonio González Pacheco, alias “Billy the Kid,” and former civil guard Jesús Muñecas Aguilar, known as “Captain Muñecas,” are wanted by a Buenos Aires judge who is investigating crimes committed against Spaniards during the 1939-75 Francisco Franco dictatorship.

High Court Judge Pablo Ruz confiscated their passports and allowed the two men to remain free on their own recognizance but ordered them to report to him on a weekly basis until he rules whether they should be extradited to Argentina.

Ruz warned the two that if they violated any of his bail conditions, he would “correct the situation immediately,” which could imply jail time. The judge said that the charges they face in Argentina are considered felonies in Spain.

Pacheco and Muñecas appeared at the High Court accompanied by their attorneys, who told Ruz that the two are not willing to go to Argentina voluntarily. As part of the procedure, the judge had to ask the defendants if they agreed to appear before Buenos Aires Judge María Servini on their own terms.

Pacheco is wanted in Argentina for allegedly torturing 13 victims between 1971 and 1975

According to judicial sources, the defense lawyers read from a statement alleging that their clients were protected by the 1977 Amnesty Law, which was introduced during Spain’s post-Franco Transition.

Ruz did not rule on the merits of their defense case, but said that he had the duty to impose certain restrictions concerning their freedom of movement while he studies the evidence.

Pacheco, 67, is wanted in Argentina for allegedly torturing 13 victims between 1971 and 1975 while he was a police inspector. He was dubbed Billy the kid by his victims who said he would frequently twiddle his pistol by its trigger guard on his finger.

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 said he was protected by the terms of the Amnesty Law.

Muñecas Aguilar, 77, a former civil guard captain, was convicted and sentenced to five years for taking part in the February 23, 1981 attempted coup. Now he is wanted in Argentina for allegedly torturing Andoni Arrizabalaga, a former ETA member, at the Civil Guard’s headquarters in Zarauz, Gipuzkoa.

The Argentinean judge is conducting her investigation based on the doctrine of universal justice after a group of Spaniards filed complaints against the two men and several others when the Spanish judicial system ignored their petitions. In September, Judge Servini issued international arrest warrants for four men, including a former bodyguard to King Juan Carlos. The judge was told that the other two defendants have since died.

Pacheco and Muñecas arrived at the High Court one hour before they were scheduled to appear in a bid to avoid television cameras. Nearby, about two dozen people gathered to demand the two be extradited to Buenos Aires.

After the hearing, Pacheco and Muñecas tried to hide their faces from photographers; Pacheco walked out wearing sunglasses and a cap, with his coat collar shielding his face. They both got into separate but identical vehicles with drivers.

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