El País in English

"With Garzon gone, so has the chance for justice"

photo: Alberto Martín
"Hundreds of people showed up in Madrid's Puerta del Sol Monday night demanding that the Supreme Court appoint a court to investigate Franco-era crimes. Supporters of disbarred High Court Judge Baltasar Garzón believe that now while the top court has now acquitted him of breaching his bench duties by trying to open up an inquiry in 2008, it has effectively buried any chance for an official probe.

The justices ruled that while the "search for truth" is "a legitimate and necessary one" it "doesn't correspond to a judge" but the state. Practically all judges - except in Granada and El Escorial - have dropped investigations into Franco-era assassinations.
The murder could have been committed yesterday or 75 years ago, but if the relatives of the victim are to come to terms with their loss they need to know something about the circumstances of the death: whether their loved one suffered; died alone; or what was the weapon used to kill them.
What's more, as Lourdes Herrasti and J.M. Jiménez Sánchez - both specialists in identifying bone damage in skeletons - point out, the exhumations defeat the long-standing excuse by apologists for Franco that both sides committed crimes during the Civil War. Instead they point to systematic and brutal repression by Franco's forces during and after the war aimed at imposing a reign of terror and the liquidation of anybody who had been active in supporting the Republic or associated with it. "More than 5,500 craniums, and each one has a bullet hole in it," says Jiménez Sánchez. After each exhumation, the team would report the appearance of human remains with the signs of a violent death to the local court, but judges would never bother to even visit the site.
Francisco Etxeberria, a professor of forensic medicine at the University of the Basque Country and who has led more than 200 exhumations of Civil War-era mass graves in close collaboration with Garzón, says that around 95 percent of the common graves that have been investigated were found nowhere near the fighting, but in areas that had been occupied by Franco's forces.
Those killed were not soldiers, but civilians summarily executed, Etxeberria said.
On many occasions, the victims themselves would be required to dig their own grave, but local shepherds or laborers would also be pressured into digging under threat of death. Graves where bodies have been laid out in an orderly fashion, with relatives next to each other, usually indicate that the victims were shot outside the grave and then laid to rest by fellow villagers.
The average age of the victims was between 20 and 45, although some were as young as 14 and others over the age of 70 have also been found. Around five percent of those found by Etxeberria and his team were women."
full article here