Anti-Francoist militant Cipriano Martos' body found after 50 years

Justice department confirms identity of remains found in mass grave in Reus after anthropology and genetic analysis

Antonio Martos holds a picture of his brother Cipriano beside Catalan president Pere Aragonès and Justice minister Gemma Ubasart
Antonio Martos holds a picture of his brother Cipriano beside Catalan president Pere Aragonès and Justice minister Gemma Ubasart / Justice department
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Sabadell

February 22, 2023 05:47 PM

February 22, 2023 06:00 PM

The Catalan justice, rights, and memory department confirmed that remains found in a mass grave in the southern city of Reus in December belong to anti-Francoist militant Cipriano Martos.

Martos died on September 17, 1973 after ingesting sodium hydroxide during Spanish Guardia Civil police interrogation.

Born in 1942, the anti-Francoist militant was a construction worker who came to Catalonia looking for a job. He was employed as a day laborer, a miner, a textile worker and in construction. 

Martos was a member of the Oposición Sindical Obrera (OSO), or Labor Union Opposition, as well as the Spanish Communist Party and the Revolutionary Antifascist Patriotic Front (FRAP).

Guardia Civil officers detained him on August 25, 1973, after he took part in political propaganda activity in the central city of Igualada. He was accused of illegal propaganda and being a FRAP member. Police interrogated and tortured him, forcing him to drink what was known as 'truth serum,' a corrosive liquid mixing sulfuric acid and fuel.

Two days later, he was hospitalized in Reus.

On August 29, even with his terrible health condition, he testified in front of a judge, while police forbade his family from visiting him. On September 17, 1973, at 10:15 pm, he passed away due to an internal hemorrhage. 

"Can someone explain why the police did not even give him 20 days of freedom before knowing if he had done something wrong, to ask for forgiveness and to be forgiven?" Antonio Martos, Cipriano Martos' brother, wonders.

"They placed him in a rat hole, tortured him, and gave him poison so he would die," he said on Wednesday, talking to media outlets.


Found in Reus

Cipriano Martos' death was recorded on September 19, 1973 in Reus' civil register, and he was buried in a mass grave the following day.

The family was not allowed to attend the burial nor move the body to southern Spain, to the Andalusian city of Granada, where Martos was born.

Years later, on January 10, 2023, an archaeological team confirmed that one of the 41 bodies exhumed the previous month was compatible with Martos' physical characteristics: sex, age, size, and injuries.

The remains were moved to a lab for genetic and anthropological study and to check against data registered in a genetic identification program. The research confirmed who he was, becoming the 20th person exhumed to be identified in Catalonia since the program's creation in 2016.

"The work allows us to move forward and dignify the memory of Martos and the anti-Francoist militants that fought to gain the rights and freedoms that we currently have in this Catalan democracy," Justice minister Gemma Ubasart said to journalists.

Trial and return home

After having the identity confirmed, authorities informed the Reus court of the finding. They await for the judge to open an investigation to clarify what happened to Cipriano Martos.

The only wish for Antonio, Cipriano's brother, is to find a way of bringing the body to Granada, as he cannot drive, and it is expensive.

The Catalan government has already confirmed they are willing to do whatever is needed to give peace to Martos' family and his remains so that he can rest in his birthplace.