Individual suspected of crimes against humanity and the EU’s remembrance policy

Individual suspected of crimes against humanity and the EU’s remembrance policy

On 08 July 1978, during the San Fermín bull-running festival in Pamplona-Iruñea, Spain, police, acting under direct orders, used violence and opened fire. Dozens of people were injured and a young man named Germán Rodríguez was shot and killed by police. No one has ever stood trial for what happened that day.

The then Minister for the Interior, Rodolfo Martín Villa, has been called to give evidence to the so-called ‘Querella Argentina’ (Argentinian Complaint), which investigates crimes committed by the Franco dictatorship and during the Transition. Last year the current High Representative sent a letter of support to the former Minister.

On 02 September 2020, Spanish Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Idoia Villanueva Ruiz of the Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left, raised a written parliamentary question to the European Commission. MEP Villanueva Ruiz asked, “In the Commission’s view, should the High Representative publicaly withdraw his support for someone under investigation for crimes against humanity?”

Further, she asked the Commission “does it support the ongoing investigation by the Querella Argentina into the crimes committed by the Spanish dictatorship between 1936 and 1977?” and “what action can the Commission do in order to guarantee that Member States comply with the investigation into what happened and with the duty of remembrance in honour of the victims in Europe, as acknowledged in several EU directives?”

On 24 November, High Representative and Vice-President Josep Borrell formally responded on behalf of the European Commission. He stated that “recent information published in the press according to which High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Common Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, Josep Borrell, allegedly interfered in the judicial process of M. Martin Villa, by addressing a letter to an Argentinian judge, is false” and “since this matter took place during the period when M. Borrell was the Minister of the Foreign Affairs of Spain, we refer the Honourable Members to address any question related to this subject to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs”.

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