The Provincial Court of Madrid has confirmed that it cannot put Juan Antonio González-Pacheco, also known as ‘Billy el Niño’ (Billy the Kid) on trial for torture. González-Pacheco was an inspector of the Political-Social Brigade during Franco's regime. The reason for this filing was that the court considered it impossible to investigate the crime and due to the Amnesty Law of 1977 the limitation of liability has passed.
Plaintiff claims Billy el Niño tortured her in the 1970s
In November 2017, Felisa Echegoyen filed a criminal demand against Billy el Niño, who was one of the most sinister figures of Franco's dictatorship. The plaintiff claimed to have been tortured for days by the then inspector of the Political-Social Brigade of Franco's police in one of the dungeons of the former General Security Directorate in 1974.
In February of this year, a Madrid court filed a case arguing that the crimes of torture he was accused of had expired. Now the Provincial Court has endorsed the decision, arguing that it cannot be considered a crime against humanity "because it lacks the requirement of being a systematic and organized attack on a group of the population".
Old amnesty law allows Billy el Niño to go unpunished again
This is not the first time that the 1977 Amnesty Law has led to González-Pacheco going unpunished for alleged torture. It is thought that he was responsible for torturing hundreds of people during the 1970s. The Amnesty Law exempts the former policeman from any criminal responsibility. The Madrid Provincial Court has now reinforced this view.
RIS calls for law to stop being used as an excuse
The NGO Rights International Spain has protested the decision of the Provincial Court and points out that the UN Committee against Torture has, on several occasions, urged Spain to ensure the non-applicability of statutory limitations to torture, "both as an individual crime and as a crime against humanity, since it is a serious violation of human rights that amounts to an international crime". Several different United Nations human rights mechanisms, such as the Human Rights Committee and the Committee against Torture, have also expressed their rejection of the application of the Amnesty Law.
Rights International Spain has said that this law cannot continue being used as an excuse for not complying with international obligations regarding justice, truth and reparation for victims.