Rodolfo Martin Villa

22.05.2017 ( Last modified: 29.03.2022 )
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Rodolfo Martin Villa was born in 1934 in Spain and is an engineer and former politician. He was appointed civil governor of Barcelona in 1974 and became Minister of Labor from 1975 to 1976 and then Minister of Interior from 1976 to 1979. He was member of the Spanish parliament in two occasions, first as an independent in the Union of the Democratic Centre (1977-1983) and then as deputy of the People’s Party (1989-1997).

Martin Villa, as Minister of Labor, was one of the alleged responsible for the massacre of 3 March 1976, when a massive strike took place in Vitoria, the Basque capital. While workers were gathering inside the parish of San Francisco, the police entered the church and used tear gas to force them out. As suffocating people tried to escape they were beaten up and shot by the Spanish police, resulting in 5 dead civilians and 150 injured with gunshot wounds.


Legal Procedure

On 14 April 2010, Spanish and Argentinian human rights organisations filed a criminal complaint with the Argentinian investigating judge Servini de Cubria on behalf of Spanish victims of the Franco regime.

On 31 October 2014, the Argentinian investigating judge issued arrest warrants against 20 former officials of the Franco era and requested their extradition to Argentina, invoking universal jurisdiction. Martin Villa is accused of crimes against humanity of premeditated murder. The investigating judge required his appearance before the court for interrogation.

On 12 November 2014, Spain’s justice minister declared that the country’s police will not arrest the suspects, since crimes exceeded the statute of limitations in Spain, and are covered by Spain’s 1977 amnesty law.

A new request for interrogation directed by the Argentinian judge to the Spanish Audiencia Nacional on 23 March 2016 was rejected as well.

In June 2017, Judge Servini de Cubría issued an international arrest warrant against Rodolfo Martín Villa for the death of five workers in Vitoria in 1976. However, it was annulled by the Appeals Chamber. Thus, in July 2017, Judge Servini de Cubría issued a new arrest warrant against Martin Villa for crimes against humanity and murder.

In June 2019, new testimonies were received by the Argentinian investigative judge María Romilda Servini de Cubría. One complainant, Fermín Rodríguez, was heard regarding the killing of his brother, German, shot in the head by the police in 1978 during the Sanfermines festivities in Pamplona. This is the first time a complaint has been brought regarding the severe police repression that allegedly took place in the bullring of Pamplona, leaving 11 dead. The complaint asks the authorities to issue an international arrest warrant and extradition orders against two officials and eight police officers.

In August 2020, Martín Villa sent to Investigative Judge María Romilda Servini de Cubría around twenty supporting letters from politicians, including from former Prime Ministers José María Aznar, José Luis Zapatero and Mariano Rajoy, defending his role during the democratic transition.

Judge Servini de Cubría interrogated Rodolfo Martín Villa on 3 September 2020 in the Argentinian embassy in Madrid, Spain. During a five-hour video conference, he was questioned on his alleged role in the deaths of 12 victims of the Franco dictatorship.

On 15 October 2021, Judge Servini de Cubría indicted Martín Villa on four counts of aggravated murder. Martín Villa has appealed this decision.

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