Evidence of genocide

Many of the corpses which were exhumed had bullet holes in their skulls, many showed signs of fractured or shattered bones and some had wires around their wrists, indicating that they had been tied up before being executed. The signs of violence to which they had been subjected, the collective depositing of their bodies in a non-conventional grave, the desire to hide them, the secrecy with which the executions were carried out to ensure impunity from the crimes, the political motivation for the killings... all this means that El Marrufo was the site of an authentic genocide.

Juan Manuel Guijo, who before the project at El Marrufo had taken part in nine campaigns to exhume victims of Francoism, says there are some unusual aspects of the graves at the estate which he had never come across before. He considers there were signs that clearly indicate genocide: the collective dumping of corpses in unconventional graves, the signs of violence to which they had been subjected, the wish for secrecy to ensure impunity from the crimes, and the distance from any inhabited village or community. All of that points to genocide.


Guijo points out that in some of the graves it was obvious that those burying the bodies were in less of a hurry than in villages or towns in which people who had been detained were shot: in those places they had to work quickly, so that in the morning nobody would be able to see what had happened the night before. In those cases the bodies had been dragged along, there were sometimes signs of struggle and resistance, and the corpses had been thrown into the grave carelessly so they could be buried quickly. “Here it is different, there is a certain cleanliness; in fact in some graves there was a lot of room between the bodies, as if they wanted to keep them apart and had had the time to do that. You can see they weren’t in a hurry. They were sure they were acting with complete impunity because this was the ideal place to carry out these atrocities,” he explains.

With all the information to hand, in the summer of 2012 Afresama filed a case at the Number 2 Trial Court in Jerez de la Frontera. The association of families believed, and still believes, that crimes had been committed of enforced disappearance, detention, torture and assassination, in other words crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes against international peace and security. They were all perpetrated against the defenceless civil population for political and ideological motives, in the context of armed insurrection against the legitimate government of the Republic. The judge ordered the case to be shelved and the association’s lawyer lodged an appeal with the Provincial Court. It also shelved the case.

As their case would not be considered here, the Forum and Afresama decided to participate in the one which judge María Servini is handling in Argentina, against crimes committed by Francoism between July 1936 and June 1977. The decision to do so was made by the committees of the two associations at a meeting held in Algeciras at the end of 2013 with Ana Messuti, a lawyer from the legal team which lodged the lawsuit. Andrés Rebolledo, the president of both organisations, said at the time that the association of relatives of those who suffered reprisals would act as a plaintiff in the case of La Sauceda and El Marrufo, and the Foro por la Memoria del Campo de Gibraltar would do so on behalf of those shot and subjected to reprisals in Jimena de la Frontera and the other six towns and villages in the Campo de Gibraltar: Algeciras, La Línea, San Roque, Castellar de la Frontera, Los Barrios and Tarifa. There is documentary evidence to suggest that around 600 people from those places were shot. 

You can find out more about the communal graves at El Marrufo via these links: