The Francoist torturers of the Martutene prison got away with the murder of Vicente Lertxundi

There was no New Years Eve for Vicente Lertxundi. There was no justice for the victim and no punishment for the executioners. Only silence and then impunity. A long and indestructible impunity that was born under the Franco regime and that was consolidated and chronicled in democracy: the executioners who tortured Lertxundi wore uniforms before, during and after that day. They never, ever answered in court.

Christmas 1962 became a nightmare for this anarchist militant from the San Sebastian neighborhood of Gros. His passage through the Martutene jail, one of the prisons used by the dictatorship to lock up those who resisted against totalitarianism, became in practice a sadist unofficial death penalty, beaten to death by the jailers.

Lertxundi already knew the savagery of the regime. “He had been detained on several occasions, for example in March 1955 in Bermeo, where he received a severe beating by the Francoist police,” says a report on human rights violations in Euskadi published by the Basque government in 2016.

In December 1962, he was arrested again under the “vagrants and crooks” law. His tragic fate was martutene prison. “According to the family, he was beaten by prison officials and given the seriousness of the situation he was released. He managed to get to a neighborhood near the jail, dying, and later died,” the association highlights. Euskal Memory.

The official version was sent to indicate that the anarchist militant “was transferred to the infirmary of the prison suffering from a heart ailment” after which he was released on December 27, 1962, “dying in the street”, says the report of the Basque Government.

The anarchist militant Vicente Lertxundi. EUSKAL MEMORY FUNDAZIOA FUND

The document states that “residents of the Txomin neighborhood, between Martutene and Loiola, in Donostia / San Sebastián, they found him dying next to the first of the houses that adjoin the Martutene prison, and they transferred him to the hospital, where he died. “In fact,” the neighbors who helped him testified that, even when he was dying, “Lertxundi exclaimed several times:” They have killed. They killed me. “He was 50 years old.

The case was covered with the utmost impunity. “No official instance opened an investigation to clarify the circumstances of Vicente’s death”, highlights the investigator Joxerra Bustillo in a review published in 2015 by Euskal Memoria.

In this sense, Bustillo emphasizes that “the official version was the usual method used by the dictatorship to hide their crimes. And if someone dared to question the only version, they were in danger of being the object of the attentions of the Police, or of the jailers, who gave so much. “

“His case continues without recognition or truth, while those responsible for all these brutal tortures, whether the material perpetrators or the responsible institutions, continue to enjoy total impunity,” he laments for his part. Iñaki Revuelta Lertxundi, great-nephew of the militant anarchist.

A scourge with impunity

According to data compiled by Euskal Memoria, during the last 70 years 5,657 cases of torture were registered in the Basque Country. With those figures on the table, the Egiari Zor Foundation – dedicated to working on issues related to victims of state terrorism – maintains that it was a “systematic practice in detention centers” and stresses that it was possible “thanks to the support of a well-designed structure.”

“The public denunciation of what was happening, the obvious marks and wounds on the bodies, the psychological annihilation of victims and its surroundings have not been sufficient proof for those who diminished the credibility of this brutality and did nothing to stop it, “says Egiari Zor.

In total, 14 people – including Vicente Lertxundi – died as a result of torture while in charge of police officers. Eight of those 14 cases were already registered in a democracy, between 1981 and 1993. Five resulted in light sentences, while in the rest there was no type of criminal consequence.

This Sunday, Egiari Zor will hold an event in Donostia to remember Lertxundi and all the victims of torture. There he will claim again that “it is time to bring out the truth and to officially recognize the victims that State violence has caused in Euskal Herria “.

“Torture has been a perverse legacy of the Franco regime that the citizens of Euskal Herria have suffered regardless of the color of the state government, during the dictatorship, the transition and democracy,” the organizers affirm in the convocation.

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