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Spain (Trial)

Volume 436: debated on Wednesday 30 April 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply he has received to his inquiries about the imprisonment and sentencing to death by General Franco's Government of a number of young Spanish anti-Fascists, some of whom are i6 years of age; and what further action he will take.

On 7th April, His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires at Madrid reported that these Spaniards had not yet been tried but were charged with having placed bombs in front of food shops last November, as a result of which four persons were injured, one seriously. In the light of this information His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires was instructed to arrange for a representative of the Embassy to be present at the trial and also to investigate a report that one of the prisoners had been ill-treated.

His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires has now reported that an official statement was issued yesterday by the Spanish Government which confirmed the fact that these Spaniards had not yet been tried and that the report that they had been sentenced to death was therefore inaccurate. According to the statement only two of the nine individuals were under i8 at the time of their arrest. The statement went on to say that in the case of delinquents who were only 17, their age would be regarded as an extenuating circumstance under Spanish Law and that this principle would be applied in the present case. The statement added that the trial of these prisoners by court martial was expected to take place within the next few weeks.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his full reply and for the action which he has taken, with the obviously beneficial results that have followed therefrom, might I ask him if he will keep his eye on this trial?

Yes, I certainly will, but I think it proves the wisdom of my action in resisting the withdrawal of our representatives from Madrid.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that nobody suggested withdrawing diplomatic representatives from Madrid without at the same time taking economic action, such as oil sanctions, which would have brought Franco down by now?