Catalan Parliament unanimously nullifies Francoist sentences
64,000 victims of fascist repression get justice more than 40 years since the end of the dictatorship, including executed president Lluís Companys
A new law has been passed in the Catalan Parliament on Thursday that nullifies the politically motivated death penalties and prison sentences handed down by summary courts in Catalonia during the Franco regime. The passing of the Catalan law provides historical justice for around 64,000 Catalans, among them Catalan President Lluís Companys, executed by the regime in 1940, or anarchist Salvador Puig Antich, who only a year before the dictator’s death was killed by garrote, an execution method banned because of its brutality.
The highest profile victim of the summary judgements is Companys, the democratically elected president of Catalonia in 1934. The Spanish government has never offered an apology for his death and the law passed on Thursday only applies in Catalonia. Lluís Companys had fled to France after the Republican defeat in 1939 and was captured by the German Gestapo and handed over to the Francoist forces. In 1940, he was put on trial for treason in Barcelona and executed by a firing squad in Montjüic castle, a landmark of Francoist repression at the time. Since the restoration of democracy, the Catalan government and civil associations have repeatedly called on successive Spanish governments to revoke his sentence, but without success.
Josep Cruanyes, president of the Commission of Dignity, one of the organizations most involved in supporting the bill, highlighted its historic importance as “a reference point for laws and policies of historical reparation.” He also underlined that it was important that “the Catalan Parliament take a stance” on the issue of reparations to Francoist victims.
"Catalonia becomes a reference point for laws and policies of historical reparation"
Josep Cruanyes · President of the Commission of Dignity
The legislation was put forward by the Together for Yes coalition, the CUP party and the CSQP party, and is accepted by the Catalan branch of the People’s Party, which took no part in drawing up the bill.
The draft legislation revokes the sentences of the Francoist military tribunals, which acted in Catalonia from 1938 to 1978. According to the new law, all summary judgements by these courts, dictated for political purposes in Catalonia, will be nullified, since they acted against human rights and were the result of unjust legal procedures. The legislation also authorizes the National Archive of Catalonia to draw up a list of people convicted during the dictatorship.
Talking to the press, Montse Palau, MP for Together for Yes in the Catalan Parliament, stressed that this law “simply defends democracy because one cannot be a democrat without being opposed to fascism and Francoism.”
The Catalan Socialist Party MP, Ferran Pedret, argued that the socialists did not participate in the elaboration of the law but are glad to join the initiative and vote in favor. “We have reached an agreement and we are very happy about the result,” he added. Yet, CSQP’s Joan Josep Nuet pointed out the contrast between the approval of this law this on Thursday and the fact that on Wednesday the majority of the People’s Party in the Spanish Congress awarded a medal to the “fascist leader” Martín Villa, who was a minister under Franco. Meanwhile, member for the anti-capitalist CUP party, Mireia Boya, called the approval of the law “a first milestone in the construction of the Catalan Republic, which we will start building after October 1.”
The Spanish Law of Historical Memory from 2010 was the first official step taken by the, then Socialist, Spanish government to provide reparations for Francoist victims in Spain. However, many historical memory supporters criticized the law for falling short in not revoking death and prison sentences handed down to thousands of political opponents during the Franco dictatorship. Since then, there has been no other governmental initiative in Spain to find a solution to the issue of historical memory and full reparations for Civil War and Francoist victims.