An Argentine federal judge has opened an investigation into the death of Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca, who is believed to have been executed in 1936 by forces loyal to General Francisco Franco. Garcia Lorca’s fate remains a mystery after the site near the Spanish city of Granada where he was believed to have been buried was excavated in 2009 without finding human remains.
With efforts by the Spanish justice system stalled, a Spanish human rights group called the Association for the Recuperation of Historic Memory asked Argentine Judge María Servini de Cubría to take up the case. She has accepted, said a statement by the group on Facebook.
“The case has been incorporated into an ongoing investigation by Judge María Servini into crimes against humanity,” it said.
Servini was already looking into Franco-era crimes ranging from torture to extra-judicial killings. Franco ruled for almost four decades after his Nationalist forces won Spain’s 1936-1939 civil war.
Spain’s most famous human rights judge, Baltasar Garzón, opened an inquiry into Franco-era crimes in 2008 but later dropped the case — an example of the issue’s political sensitivity.
“The judge has requested that the courts in Madrid release the case file to the association,” an Argentine court source said.
Spain’s civil war became a curtain-raiser for World War II when Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy provided arms and funding for Franco’s forces. Soviet leader Josef Stalin backed communists fighting against them and Franco saw himself as a “sentinel” against communism. Volunteers from various countries, known as the International Brigades, traveled to Spain to join the fight against Franco after he launched his revolt against Spain’s Republican government in 1936.
Spain’s 1977 Amnesty law prevents prosecution of crimes against humanity committed during the Franco era. However, by using the principle of transnational justice as a loophole, plaintiffs hope that Servini de Cubría’s initiative will be accepted by the Spanish courts so that they can finally receive justice.