Spain: Stuart Christie contests Francoist imprisonment

A Scottish anarchist who spent time in General Franco’s jails after smuggling explosives to assassinate the dictator has accused the Spanish government of ignoring his attempts to receive recognition as a Francoist victim.

Stuart Christie, 65, was caught with plastic explosives after picking them up from fellow anarchists in Paris and crossing the Spanish border with them taped to his body. In his autobiography, he said of the journey: “With the plastic explosive strapped to me, my body was improbably misshapen. The only way to disguise myself was with the baggy woollen jumper my granny had knitted to protect me from the biting Clydeside winds. At the risk of understatement, I looked out of place on the Mediterranean coast in August.”

Christie wants the 20-year prison sentence, handed down to him as an 18-year-old by a Francoist council of war in 1964, to be overturned.

He served three years before the Franco regime buckled to public protests in Britain and released him.

“I’m trying to push the Spanish government into openly condemning Francoist legal decisions as illegitimate and, in particular, to overturn the verdicts of the military tribunals,” he said.

Although Spain’s historical memory law does not explicitly allow for Francoist sentences to be overturned, Christie’s lawyer, Servando Rocha, said he should at the very least be given public recognition for having suffered at the hands of an illegitimate court. Rocha accused the socialist government of prime minister JosĂ© Luis RodrĂ­guez Zapatero of deliberately slowing down the process of awarding Christie what the law calls a “certificate of personal recognition and reparation”.

The certificates, of which several hundred have already been issued, are worded in a way designed to avoid giving claimants any reasons for demanding compensation from the Spanish state.

Spain’s justice ministry has failed to produce a certificate despite admitting that Christie sent all the necessary paperwork almost two years ago.

“I hope you can explain to me, once and for all, the real reason why my application, submitted on 22 June 2009, still remains unresolved,” Christie said in a recent letter to justice minister Francisco Caamaño.

“They will have to give it to him in the end, but they are stretching time out as long as possible, perhaps because they want the next government to deal with it,” said Rocha, referring to elections due by next March.

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