Some notes on Franco’s military justice system, the consejos de guerra sumarísimos

Until 1964 Franco’s political prisoners were dealt with by special military courts, ‘consejos de guerra’. The most active of these was the ‘Special Tribunal for the Represion of Freemasonry and Communism’ (Tribunal Especial para la Represión de la Masonería y el Comunismo) established on 1 March 1940. Between that date and 1953, the Tribunal heard 27,085 cases and passed sentence on 8,918 prisoners in 940 secret trials. According to the Army Board (Alto Estado Mayor) sentencing figures for 1954 were 1,266; 1955, 902; 1957, 723; 1958, 717. Its victims included those arrested in the reviving labour movement and the industrial unrest of the 1950s, including the strikes of 1951, ’53, ’57-’58, and of course the wave of student activism of 1956. According to the official figures issued by the Ministry of Justice for 1959 there were 14,957 prisoners in the regime’s jails. Of these 816 were sentenced for crimes against state security and 385 for ‘Banditry and Terrorism”. At the same time, New York Times reporter Bernjamin Welles reported that these figures didn’t include 35 women, 15 freemasons and 470 other individuals convicted of ‘common law’ crimes, but who were, in fact, political prisoners, making a total of 1,721 political prisoners held by the regime.*

Another important law used by Franco’s military courts was the 1947 ‘Law on Banditry and Terrorism’ (‘Decreto-Ley de Bandidaje y Terrorismo’) that targeted mainly anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists of the CNT labour union, many of whom were active in the urban and rural guerrillas (as, I should add, were Spanish Communist Party members, at least until 1948 when Stalin renounced the guerrilla struggle and ordered Party members to lay down their arms and abandon the armed struggle). Nor was it only those involved in armed struggle who fell foul of the ‘Law against Banditry[, anyone shouting ‘Viva la República’, for example, could receive up to 14 years in prison for ‘inciting rebellion’. The law in question laid down a sentence of death or imprisonment for life for “those who, in order to breach public security, strike terror into the inhabitants of a location, carry out acts of vengeance or reprisal of a social or political character or breach the peace, order or public services, cause explosions, arson, wrecks, derailings, interruption of communications, structural collapses, floods or explosions, or use any other means or devices that may cause great devastation”

In January 1958, with the resurgence of domestic unrest, no let-up in international hostility, and the ongoing activity of the anarchist urban and rural guerrilla groups (‘Quico’ Sabaté, Facerias, the Grupos Anarcosindicalistas, Marcelino Massana, Ramón Vila ‘Caraquemada’, etc), an increasingly paranoid Franco ordered the creation of a new repressive judicial institution — the Juzgado Especial Militar de Actividades Extremistas (Specialist Military Court of Extremist Activities) with jurisdiction over the whole of Spain. Its function was, in Franco’s words, ‘To combat the global Jewish-Masonic-Marxist plot against Spain to bring about the downfall of the “Glorious National Movement” and the regime.’

Coronel de Infantería Enrique Eymar Fernández

The man appointed to head this new body was Colonel Enrique Eymar Fernández, a notorious character — a ‘Caballero Mutilado de Guerra por la Patria’ (a ‘gentleman, mutilated in the war [Morocco, 1924-25] for the Fatherland’)whose history as a brutal inquisitor-magistrate dated back to the immediate post-Civil War period when he had overall responsibility for the interrogation, mistreatment and torture of Republican prisoners of war and, later, victims of the Gestapo-trained political police, the Brigada Polītico Social (BPS). The BPS was based in Dirección General de Seguridad (DGS) in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol where, as Examining Magistrate for the First Military Region (which covered Castilla la Nueva, parts of Castilla la Vieja and Extremadura) Eymar had his own office until January 1958 when he moved to 19 Calle del Reloj, the garrison HQ of the new Special Military National Court of Extremist Activities (Juzgado Militar Especial Nacional de Actividades Extremistas). His deputy, and secretary to the Tribunal, was Lt. Colonel José Antonio Balbás Planelles.

*** Causa: 1.601/62 — Julián Grimau García ***

The role of the Special Tribunal as the regime’s first line of institutional defence ended in February 1964, during the Francoist international and domestic PR campaign of ’25 Años de Paz’, when it was replaced by the civilian-led Public Order Tribunal (TOP). The TOP’s judicial remit covered any [political] crime not involving an ‘attempt against the state, officers of state, government officials or the security forces’. This juridical re-invention was triggered by the international diplomatic interventions and the global outrage that followed the April 1963 trial (causa 1601/62 ) and execution of a Spanish Communist Party (PCE) and Civil War veteran, Julián Grimau García, a member of the Stalinist secret police, the Servicio de Información Militar, for crimes allegedly committed during the Spanish Civil War.

French identity card of Julian Grimau

Despite the 25-year statute of limitations, Grimau, a member of the Party’s Central Committee, had been charged under the 1938 Francoist ‘Law of Political Responsibilities’, a law designed to prosecute supporters of the Republic for ‘continued armed rebellion’. The four hour masquerade that passed for his trial — presided over by Colonel Valentín Bulnes (Cavalry) — and which ended in his death sentence, was a sham on all sorts of levels: not only was there no deliberation of the evidence, it turned out that the prosecutor, Manuel Fernandez Martín, despite supposedly being a member of the Army Legal Corps (Cuerpo Jurídico Militar), had never studied law, nor had any of the other members of the military court. The only law graduate in the room was Grimau’s civilian defence solicitor, Alejandro Rebollo Álvarez-Amandi. It later emerged that the introduction of the new Public Order Tribunal (TOP), approved on 1 April 1963, had been deferred on the express orders of Franco until after Grimau had been sentenced and shot.

Grimau met his end facing a firing squad of inexperienced enlisted soldiers at 5.30 am on 20 April 1963, under floodlights in the darkness before the dawn. Twenty seven bullets failed to kill him; the coup de grâce had to be delivered by the lieutenant in charge of the detail who shot him three times in the head, a final act that apparently — and unsurprisingly — affected the lieutenant’s mental health so badly it haunted him until his final days in a psychiatric hospital. Eymar, reputedly, refused to witness the judicial murder for which he was responsible, stating he ‘had no wish to see a communist’s blood’, and left that job to his deputy, Lt. Colonel Balbás Planelles.

*** Causa: 1.118/63 — Joaquín Delgado and Francisco Granado ***

Joaquín Delgado (left) and Francisco Granado (right)

The next (and last) major case of the Special Tribunal under the 78-year old Eymar occurred a little over three months later with the trial of two young anarchists, Joaquin Delgado and Francisco Granado. The men had been arrested in Madrid on 31 July 1963, allegedly for planting two bombs — two days earlier — one in the passport office of the DGS in the Puerta del Sol, the other on a window ledge of the fascist trade union offices in the Paseo del Prado. The passport office bomb caused a number of injuries but no fatalities. The bombs had been planted by two other anarchists, Antonio Martin and Sergio Hernández, both of whom had by that time returned safely to France.

Scene of the bomb explosion at the DGS HQ in the Puerta del Sol.

Delgado and Granado, who were in Madrid preparing an assassination attempt on Franco in his motorcade as it passed under the Puente de los Franceses — an attempt that had been called off with both men preparing to return to Paris. The plan had been betrayed by Jacinto Guerrero Lucas, a police infiltrator into the anarchist youth organisation, the Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth (FIJL).

Interior patio of the DGS prior to its refurbishment in the mid 1990s

Following their interrogation (and torture) at the hands of the Brigada Político-Social the pair were handed over for trial to Eymar and the Special Tribunal (causa sumarísima 1.118/63) on 3 August 1963. However, something occurred between then and 8 August when the next examination-in-chief with the anarchists took place in Carabanchel Prison; Eymar had been either retired or dismissed and replaced by his deputy, Lt. Colonel José Antonio Balbás Planelles, who took over full responsibility for their equally farcical court martial on 13 August at 5 Calle del Reloj.

The court martial was convened for 9.30 a.m. on the 13th in the second-floor hall at 5 Calle del Reloj. Journalist and author Carlos Fonseca describes the proceedings:

“One by one the members of the tribunal trooped into the room. Their martial gait and the gaudiness of their braided uniforms and the swords at their waist were ill at odds with the old-fashioned furnishings, gloom and fetid smell in the room. The first to mount the platform was the chairman, Artillery Colonel Ramón Díez de Ulzurrun y Arana, followed by his colleagues Captains Antonio Narvona Matas from the Chemical Defence Regiment, Antonio Penedo Álvarez from the No 1 Immemorial Infantry Regiment, Juan Bethencour y Carbajal from the 1st Montesa Armoured Brigade, and Jesús Valenciano Almoyna who had been appointed rapporteur. His status allowed him to take his seat to the left of the court chairman whilst the remainder of the members of the court were seated in accordance with their seniority. 

“The oldest hands, on either side of the colonel, and the rest at each end of the table. Stand-by members Captains Luis Martínez Jiménez Carles and José Lozano de Sosa Cuevas who had been chosen to cover any eventuality, also took their seats, although they were there merely as observers and would have to withdraw once the hearing had ended and the court withdrew to secret session in order to deliberate.

“The seats were occupied mainly by off-duty commanders, officers and NCOs from the Madrid garrison along with personnel from the Regional Social Investigation Brigade who, while they had not been involved in the investigation, were not there to testify. This was standard practice designed to occupy the seats set aside for family and friends and thereby avert any incident as well as serving to intimidate any rebels who might venture to enter the courtroom. Nobody got out without being marked down as possibly disaffected from the regime, so that only the closest family members dared put in an appearance at the hearing, half-cowed and half-nervous. On this occasion, they never even got the chance to feel the inquisitorial eyes upon them as no one had bothered to inform that that the hearing would take place that morning. One problem less to worry about.

“At 9.30 a.m. sharp the chairman opened the proceedings.

“I declare that this Court Martial for the purpose of trying indictment 1,118/63, prepared by summary process against Francisco Granado Gata, Joaquín Delgado Martínez, Manuel Gambín Sepúlveda, Gregorio Corona Rojas, Victoriano García Fraile and María de la Cruz López López on the following charges…

“The reading was over in barely twenty minutes. The chairman then called the prosecutor, Enrique Amado del Campo, who was not only a serving officer but also a Cortes deputy and a member of the Special Commission set up to look at the government’s draft bill setting up the Public Order Court (TOP). Amado del Campo had also acted as prosecuting counsel in the previous April’s court martial that passed the death sentence on Julián Grimau…

“Joaquín Delgado knew that he was going to die, no matter what. They were not the ones who had planted the bombs, but no matter. They had been caught in possession of explosives meant for use in an attempt on the life of the Generalissimo. An outrage that could not be left unpunished, enough to merit not one but twenty death sentences. He was also a Freemason, a long-standing member of the Grand Orient of France.

“When it was all over the only qualified lawyer in the proceedings, Captain-Auditor Jesús Valenciano Almoyna, drafted the court’s verdict, starting with the place and date when the court martial met and the names, surnames, ages, status, professions and home addresses of the defendants, where they had been held during the process and the crime charged against them.

“His draft opened with a lengthy preamble on the context in which the events tried had taken place.

“‘The various forces which since 1936 had toiled, always unsuccessfully, against Spain’s peace, security and independence, ever on the look-out for further opportunities to reenact earlier tragic experiences, were joined in time by the remnants of a Iberian anarchism which is discredited even in the eyes of those with whom it formed a front, because of its anodyne aims and the disproportionate and cowardly nature of its methods. Those scattered anarchist factions, keen to revive their dismal coups which peopled nearly a century of Spanish life with grief, blood and pain, attempted to regroup and, operating with a repugnant loyalty to their old methods, sought the overthrow of the Spanish regime through all manner of attentats, no matter against whom or what directed and regardless of whether they claimed innocent victims or not, their sole aim being to create disorder, subvert Spanish political life, destroy its authorities and, ultimately, to create a climate of terror and confusion liable in furtherance of the aims they pursue through unspeakable alliances. And certain individuals from Spain colluded in this; hiding behind the legality that later they would attack, they quit the country ready to organise from abroad the outrages and attacks that they considered most likely to secure their wretched aims. This, in France, there rose up an organisation known as the Federación Ibérica de Juventudes Libertarias (FIJL) which, deeming itself the successor and repository of the vile ideas of the FAI-CNT, determined to embark upon a series of acts designed to create terror and alarm on Spanish soil.’

“The members of the panel appended their signatures to the foot of the sentence, starting with the court chairman. The judgment was then handed over to the prosecuting magistrate, Lieutenant Colonel José Antonio Balbás Planelles — who had stood in for Colonel Eymar during the proceedings — for him to present to the prosecution and defence counsels for whatever comments they saw fit to make.

“The death sentence was confirmed by Franco on Friday 16 August, which meant they had to be executed within 12 hours of their being communicated to the defendants.

The garrote-vil

“The following day, Saturday 17 August 1963, a cold, official, statement announced that sentence had been carried out on Francisco Granado and Joaquín Delgado:

‘In the early hours of this morning, according to the formalities of common law execution, the death penalty was carried out on Francisco Granado and Joaquín Delgado.’

“Their bodies were buried , unmarked, in a paupers’ grave at plot 4, second row, number 14 in the nearby Carabanchel Municipal Cemetery; their families were never informed as to their whereabouts. Their deaths were passed over in silence, even on the official death certificates, which for years recorded the cause of death as ‘natural causes'”.

ABC Madrid, Saturday 3 August 1963. Above the headline ‘A Brilliant Service from our Police’ are the police mug shots of Granado and Delgado. To the right a grinning Director General of Security, Carlos Arias Navarro and deputy director José de Diego López (formerly on the staff of general Queipo de Llano and, in 1956, Barcelona’s police commissioner responsible for the torture of strikers during the tram strike of January 1957). The group photograph is of officers of the notorious First Political-Social Investigation Brigade (BPS), including Chief Inspectors Jacinto Martín Herrero, Julio Arenas Mota and Inspectors Juan García Gelabert, Francisco Sánchez Campanero, Luis Muñoz Sáez. Arturo Cerezo Trabada and Miguel Ángel Gil Gutiérrez. A number of these were also involved in the arrest and torture of Julian Grimau as well as Fernando Carballo Blanco, which I was forced to witness. (The BPS officers in our indictment were: Alfredo Robledo Tejedor, Antonio Jesús Gómez Saez, Arturo Cerézo Trabáda, Enrique González Herrera, Félipe Pérez Luengo, Francisco Colíno Hernánz , Chief Inspector Gonzalo Toledo Julián, Jesús Simón Cristobal, Joaquín Gómez Zarranz, Inspectors Juan Antonio Manzáno Hernández, Juan García Gelabert, Chief Inspector Don Manuel Angel Puell Espino, and the notorious Chief Superintendent (Comisario Jefe) Saturnino Yagüe González.


*** Causa: 1.154/64 — Stuart Christie ***

All of which brings me to my own experiences, a year later, within Franco’s military judicial system. The following account comes from “General Franco Made Me A Terrorist” describing my arrest in August 1964 under the “Law on Banditry and Terrorism” and my court martial at 5 Calle del Reloj by the Juzgado Militar Especial Nacional de Actividades Extremistas

La Vanguardia, Sunday 16 August 1964

“ON THE MORNING of my fourth and final day in police custody, Saturday 15 August, Carballo and I were taken by a heavily armed convoy to the HQ of the First Military Region of Spain [19 Calle del Reloj] to face the next stage of our Calvary. Before we left the Seguridad, however, some top-level visitors came with a retinue of followers-on to gloat over us, silently and briefly, through the doors of the interrogation rooms. Fernando told me later that these had included Franco’s infamous Minister of the Interior, General Camilo Alonso Vega, and his Director General of Security (DGS), Carlos Arías Navarro, a military prosecutor during the Civil War and close friend of Franco’s who came to be known as ‘the butcher of Malaga’. These two men were the principal architects of Franco’s repression. Five years later Arías Navarro was to replace Carrero Blanco as Prime Minister when an ETA commando blew the latter to hell in a handcart by a carefully executed culvert bomb in Madrid.

“At the barracks we were handed over to the military to be interrogated by the recently appointed juez instructor, the examining magistrate of the Juzgado Militar Especial Nacional de Actividades Extremistas, Lieutenant-Colonel J. A. Balbás Planelles (Corps of Engineers).

“Spanish criminal law was based on inquisitorial principles in which all preliminary inquiries are carried out by an examining magistrate, as opposed to the British adversarial system of rigorous cross-examination of the accused and the accuser.

“Balbás was a newcomer to the job. I was lucky. He had only recently replaced the soulless and sadistic ‘inquisitor colonel’, Don Enrique Eymar Fernández, the infantry colonel who headed the Primera Región Militar and the Juzgado Militar Especial from January 1958 until March 1964 and was Franco’s personal appointee as ‘special’ military judge responsible for prosecuting subversion. His writ as both magistrate and policeman ran the length and breadth of Spain; he could go anywhere at will, including into the prisons, and do anything he wanted to his suspects, with impunity. He even had his own office in the Dirección General de Seguridad where the secret policemen of the Brigada Politíco Social were at his personal orders.

“Eymar was a sadist with power of life and death. His victims were rumoured to have eclipsed even those of Torquemada and since the end of the Civil War in 1939 he was reputed to have been personally responsible for the torture, executions and murders of more than 12,000 people.

“Fortunately for me, this wounded war veteran officially ‘retired’ in March 1964, four months before my arrest. In fact he was forced to ‘retire’ as a result of the international outrage which followed the 1963 executions of the beaten and tortured communist Julián Grimau and the anarchists, Joaquin Delgado and Francisco Granado. Eymar personally presided over all three executions.

“Balbás was a different kettle of fish. He was over fifty, but still in his prime; a tall, imposing, square-jawed figure in riding breeches and highly polished boots, a highly polished bald pate with close-cropped white hair at the sides and a large silver-grey full military moustache who looked for all the world like the villainous and treacherous General Huerta in the film Viva Zapata! His matt complexion looked as though it might have been lightly talcum-powdered and his neck bulged out of his tightly buttoned collar.

“My ‘examination’ took place in a room with only a desk and three chairs — one for him, his interpreter-secretary, a captain, and myself. A brooding paterfamilias photograph of Franco hung on a wall behind him. Balbás’s voice was deep and mellow and his demeanour was amiable and straightforward as he told me I was being charged under the Decree Law of 1960 on Military Rebellion and Banditry and Terrorism (Decreto-Ley 1974/60 de Rebelión Militar y Bandidaje y Terrorismo). When reading, Balbás had a curiously disarming habit of adjusting the gold pince-nez clamped to his nose, a gesture which somehow made him seem less intimidating.

“Our ‘examinations’ lasted a few hours and involved going through my police statement and amplifying it where he felt my story required more detailed explanation. Then it was Carballo’s turn and I was sent out to sit on a bench in the hall with two armed soldiers on either side of me.

“Once Balbás had finished with me we were taken down to the barracks square, ushered into police cars and driven under military escort, with jeeps and motorcycle outriders, to the notorious Carabanchel Prison on the outskirts of Madrid.

“When we were handed over to the prison authorities on the Saturday afternoon, I was in an unemotional and trance-like state of exhaustion. The events of the previous week now seemed distant. I was no longer ‘master of my fate’ or ‘captain of my soul’. My destiny was now in the hands of others. Looking back, it seems strange, but at the time I felt quite indifferent to my circumstances and seemed only to see the surreal side of things…”

The Council of War

“RESTORED TO GOOD HEALTH and back in my cell after three or four days in the infirmary, I was wakened early on 1 September and told to collect my belongings. Carballo and I were to be tried that morning by a ‘council of war’ of the First Military Region. I was eighteen years and six weeks old.

Fernando Carballo Blanco (CNT-FIJL)

“Our fingerprints were taken again, more documents added to our expedientes and old ones checked to ensure everything was in bureaucratic order. Carballo and I were then handcuffed together and taken to the perimeter gate where we were signed into the custody of an army captain with a platoon of soldiers. We also had an escort of Policía Armada escort in jeeps and Guardia Civil motorcycle outriders.

“We were bundled into a windowless armoured truck with a sealed inner compartment and manacled to the floor with leg irons. In each of the outer compartments at the front and rear sat two Guardia Civil officers with submachine guns. The convoy consisted of two jeeps before and two behind, with four motorcyclists. Leading the procession was a car carrying men of the Brigada Político-Social.

“Massive security precautions were in place. Exaggerated stories had been circulating about the kilted hit man and the nature of our mission. Rumours included a story about an anarchist commando planning to ambush our convoy and the authorities were taking no chances; a decoy convoy had apparently left the prison before us. The ‘anarchist commando’ never materialised so we ended up, safely, at our intended destination.

5 Calle del Reloj.

“The consejo de guerra was held at 5 calle del Reloj, the military headquarters of Spain’s ‘First Military Region’. Escorted through a waiting detachment of soldiers who acted as a barrier between us and a few curious bystanders, pressmen and photographers on the pavement, we were marched up the white marble stairs to the first floor into a large hall and then into a side room to await the arrival of the military panel. Police, Guardia Civil and soldiers milled around by the doors and windows.

Don Luis Echevarría, my embassy-appointed lawyer, popped his head around the door looking quite preoccupied, and told me the prosecution was asking for twenty years for me and thirty years for Carballo. Looking on the bright side, at least it wasn’t the garrotte or the firing squad. Carballo’s military defence layer also came in to have a few words with him. Two Civil Guards arrived soon after to take us into the courtroom.

“Still handcuffed, we were marched to a wooden bench facing the dais where the presiding officers would sit. On either side of us sat a Civil Guard carrying a submachine gun. On the platform was a long table with two shorter tables at right angles to the main one. These tables were occupied by my defence counsel, Carballo’s counsel, a Captain, and the military prosecutor.

“The large window to our right, overlooking the calle de Reloj, was wide open. Behind us was a barrier beyond which were the ‘public’ benches for selected pressmen and Falangists.

“The doors opened and a hundred or so people flocked in, anxious for seats nearest the front. Within minutes all the seats were filled.

“Lieutenant-Colonel Balbás, the examining magistrate, stood by a small table leafing through papers. His orderly, beside him, flashed a friendly smile in our direction. Then in came the military prosecutor and my barrister who took their places at opposite ends of the dais facing each other.

“I looked behind me and smiled warmly when I saw my mother sitting next to the British consul, Mr Simon Sedgewick-Gell. Mum responded with a comforting smile, but she was clearly under a great deal of strain and was doing her best to appear her normal cheery self for my benefit.

“Carballo and I sat on a bench facing the dais, with Civil Guards on either side. Balbás sat with his secretary and the military interpreter, a paratroop captain, Don Francisco Martínez Pariente. Balbás gave me a smile and a nod as we trooped in; it was the smile on the face of the tiger. A soldier entered through a door on the dais and announced the presiding officer, Illustrissimo Sr Coronel de Infantería Don Jesús Montes Martín. Everyone stood as he marched in, resplendent in full military ceremonial dress followed by a chorus of 5 tight-collared captains: Captain Don Carlos Torres Espíga; Captain Don Manuel Palmero Luque; Captain Don Vicente Romero Ortíz; Captain Don José Penín Fuertas; Captain Don José Pérez Manso de Zuniga.

“The colonel and captains lined up along a table draped with a Francoist flag, removed their caps and unsheathed their swords from their scabbards, placing them ceremoniously in front of them. I knew nothing about military rank but I guessed from the gold braid and medals my judges wore, that the president of the court was well connected

“After a few ceremonial formalities the trial proper began. The prosecutor or ‘vocal ponente’, comandante auditor Don Ramón González Arnau Diez; was flanked by the army’s legal adviser/supervisor or judge Advocate (físcal juridico), comandante Don Enrique Amádo del Campo. Don Ramón opened proceedings with an impressively theatrical peroration demanding the maximum sentence for both of us. No chance of a fine and being bound over to keep the peace here, I thought.

“Carballo was defended by an army captain, Don José Bellído Serranco. The case against my co-defendant flew by. Then it was my turn. I knew this because my lawyer stood up and said something, it could have been the rosary for all I knew, but I discovered later he was asking for clemency on the grounds I did not know what I was doing or carrying.

“My memories of the proceedings are hazy. I felt like a detached, invisible observer looking out through the windows of my brain into the middle of a film set or centre stage in some Grand Guignol play. It was fascist theatre and I was the villain. The atmosphere in the courtroom seemed unreal, but I didn’t feel afraid or intimidated by the ceremonial splendour and solemnity of the proceedings. I was more bemused than anything else.

“Nor did I have any sense of time passing.

“When the prosecutor turned to my role in the plot, I sensed his tone was growing unreasonably vindictive. He was a good actor and quickly worked himself into a frenzy, shouting and gesticulating in my direction. So much so that I began to wonder to whom he was referring, and turned to see who he was pointing at, which wound him up even more.

“The prosecution case consisted mainly of a brief history and indictment of Spanish anarchism. According to the prosecutor over the years there had been numerous attempts to undermine and destroy the ‘Glorious National Movement’ launched by General Francisco Franco in 1939. The most consistent offenders against this ‘Glorious National Movement’ had been the international anarchist movement of which I, irrespective of my youth, was a good, or rather evil, example. The prosecutor went on to describe anarchism and its history with an insight and thoroughness that would have put to shame most British investigative journalists, political commentators and academics:

“‘Anarchism, formalised in the First International held in London in 1862 under the name of the International Workingmen’s Association, first appeared in Spain in 1869 with the formation of the Spanish section of the International. At different times in its history this section of the First International has adopted different names: Federación Regional Española in 1871, Federación de los Trabajadores de la Region Española in 1881, Pacto de Unión y Solidaridad in 1889, Solidaridad Obrera in 1904, Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) in 1911, Libertario Español (LE) in 1938 and then recreated in the Juventudes Libertarias (FIJL) in 1932 and the Movimiento Libertario Español (MLE) in 1938, and now manifesting itself in international informal affinity groups among which we find the Consejo Ibérico de Liberación (CIL) to which Christie and Carballo belong. This group, along with many other anarchist bodies, continues the tactics and activities of the First International which are directed toward the violent subversion and the destruction of the political, economic, social and judicial organisation of the state, and the repeatedly proclaimed social ideas which reject outright the whole concept of authority as contrary to the idea of individual liberty, and accepts, as irreconcilable, the antagonism between Society and the State with the belief in the violent suppression of the latter.’

“The prosecutor continued in this vein for some time before getting down to the nitty-gritty of the evidence against me, which was overwhelming and which I did not in essence deny, that I had been arrested with explosives knowingly in my possession.

“My evidence was translated for the court by a paratroop captain, Don Francisco Martínez Pariente. I felt embarrassed for the man. He had obviously been suckered into the job against his better judgement, or else he had been drawing a foreign language allowance under false pretences and was now having to prove his worth. Perhaps he was confused as a result of the tension in the courtroom and the added difficulty of understanding my broad Glaswegian accent.

“The sweat trickled down his face as I tried to make it easier for him to understand what I had to say. I spoke slowly, loudly and gesticulated, which only compounded his confusion. On one occasion I corrected his translation to the court in my pidgin Spanish. It was like the famous occasion in the House of Lords when the Edinburgh Provost shocked their lordships by replying to an English duke that the gun he used was the sort you shot ‘dukes and fools’ with for sport.

Note of Sentence. Release date 1984

“The military judges retired at lunchtime. The trial had lasted all morning, about three hours. My lawyer told me that the proceedings were now over, but that the sentences would not be pronounced for a day or so. [A slip of paper slipped under my cell door late at night a few days later informed me I had been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, date of release 10 August 1984; Carballo’s sentence was the maximum, 30 years, date of release 1994. In fact he ended up being one of the longest-serving prisoners, and was the last to be released, in 1977.]

“We were taken to a small side-room with the door open and curious people peering in at us. Carballo and I had to make do with a piece of dry bread and cheese. I felt uneasy, like Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas Police Station just before Jack Ruby shot him.

Mum arriving in Madrid for my trial. The chulo with the bigotes is ‘Stashy Dan’, the notorious Wilson Russell of the Scottish Daily Express.

“Balbás came in with my mother and said how charming she was and told our guards that she could have a few minutes with me, but not alone.

“I kissed her as best I could given the restrictions of my handcuffs and my Civil Guard escort. I introduced my mother to Carballo who was manacled to my wrist. I couldn’t help but feel that she believed that it was all his fault.

“It was a pity Carballo’s mother was not there to balance matters, but she was dead. Being a dignified lady, however, Mum asked him — in English, and with genuine compassion — how he was bearing up. The dialogue was more in keeping with a Kelvinside drawing room than a Spanish court martial…”

Six of the accused in the Burgos trial: Top —Arana, Gorostidi y Onaindia. Below — Abrisketa, Larena y Gesalaga.

Summary military justice for active resisters of the regime remained in force in Spain for a further 13 years, until January 1977, over a year after Franco’s death, when its jurisdiction passed to the newly constituted civil court, la Audiencia Nacional. In December 1970, a Burgos military court tried 16 ETA activists and militants, and handed down nine death sentences (all commuted); the remainder of the defendants (except one) received long prison sentences. In March 1974 Salvador Puig Antich, militant of the Iberian Liberation Movement (MIL) and Heinz Chez (a non-political prisoner) were garrroted in Barcelona. In September 1975 three militants of the Frente Revolucionario Antifascista y Patriota (FRAP), José Humberto Baena, José Luis Sánchez Bravo and Ramón Garcia Sanz, were shot by firing squad as were two members of the Basque separatist movement, ETA político militar, Juan Paredes Manot (Txiqui), in Barcelona, and Ángel Otegui in Burgos. They were last of the regime’s victims to pay directly with their lives.



* Post Civil War executions and Franco’s ‘disappeared’.

According to government figures, at the beginning of 1940, nine months after Franco’s victory, Spain’s prison population had been 270,219. By 1962 it had dropped to 14,920 prisoners.

There are no official statistics as to the number of people executed by the Franco regime after the end of the civil war. According to the Libro Blanco sobre las Carceles Franquistas 1939-1976 (Ruedo Ibérico, Paris 1976) ‘elements of the Spanish opposition quote figures of 370,00 or more executed after 1939’, but there is no way of verifying these numbers. A figure of 192,684 people executed between 1939 and 1944 is quoted by American academic Stanley G Payne (Politics and the Military in Modern Spain, 1967), information apparently given to him by a Francoist government source. That appears to be the only ‘official figure’ admitted to by the regime. Historian Gabriel Jackson (La Republica Española y la guerra civil, Grijalbo, Mexico, 1967, p446) says 200,000 prisoners were executed between 1939 and 1943. The conservative Spanish historian Ramón Tamames (La Republica. La Era de Franco, Madrid 1974) gives a figure of 105,000 executions between 1939 and 1945. Victor Alba (Histoire des Republiques espagnoles, Nord-Sud, Paris 1948) states that in the years between 1939 and 1942 80,000 prisoners passed through Barcelona’s Model Prison, of whom 7,800 were executed ‘legally’ and 3,500 executed without any form of trial. In Madrid’s Porlier prison alone in the 30 months between between July 1941 and January 1944, Cipriano Mera Sanz recorded almost 500 executions.No one will ever know the final figure. Even more horrifying is the fact that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children of anti-Francoists were taken forcibly by the Falangist ‘social aid’ and priests to be baptised, had their names changed and never returned to their parents. These children of ‘vile reds, assassins, atheists and criminals’ were either given up for adoption or taken to closed convents where many remained for the rest of their lives.