Family members of Francisco Franco carry the coffin with the dictator’s mortal remains after his exhumation in the Basilica of the Valley of the Fallen on October 24, 2019.Emilio Naranjo / POOL / efe

He said “generalissimo” or “his excellence.” And the defense lawyers answered “dictator.” Thus, the nuance that accompanied the statement in the trial of the president of the Francisco Franco Foundation, Juan Chicharro Ortega, somehow summarized the whole case. And the current clash between two irreconcilable worldviews, according to the account of two of the six defense lawyers. The first and only session of the civil process in which the grandchildren of the leader They accuse several journalists, investigators and Mediaset of violating their honor, image and privacy in a 2018 television program that lasted just three hours on Wednesday. And the case, before the court of first instance nº43 of Madrid, was seen for sentence. But, in the meantime, he has already offered a verdict: the absolute indignation of both parties.

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The Martínez-Bordiú denounce that the report Franco’s inheritance, issued on July 23, 2018, within the program In the spotlight de Cuatro, offered a “negative and tendentious image” of them, aimed at “defaming” with “reckless disregard for the truth,” according to the lawsuit. They ask that the content be destroyed, the dissemination of the sentence in the prime time slot in which the program was broadcast, and a compensation of 50,000 euros. But the defendants are scandalized and just having to face this lawsuit. “It is downright offensive. They believe that they still live in the times of the dictatorship, ”says Enrique Botella, defense attorney for the journalist and writer Mariano Sánchez Soler.

Judge Carmen Iglesias Pinuaga listened to each other on Wednesday morning, although not much: she granted each lawyer a maximum of 10 minutes for their conclusions. Which, together with the testimony of Chicharro Ortega and the program’s scriptwriter, streamlined the session. After all, all the defendants had already related their version at another time: the directors of the program, Juan Serrano and Lorena Correa; the reporters Pablo de Miguel, Juan Carlos González and Carla Sanz; the four experts who participated in the report: Sánchez Soler, author of the book The Franco Family, SA and the recent Franco’s rich; the researcher Carlos Babío; the editor-in-chief of ABC Sevilla Javier Otero, and a former member of his own family, the journalist Jimmy Jiménez-Arnau (who was married to María del Mar Merry Martínez-Bordiú, granddaughter of leader). In addition, the magistrate made it clear that the key is the report itself. “I’ll see and discern,” he reiterated according to three lawyers present.

It’s downright offensive. They are believed to still live in the times of the dictatorship

Enrique Botella, defense attorney

In reality, the case may not be resolved on the judge’s couch. Not even in court. Because Franco’s grandchildren also went to court and, after a first rejection, the courts agreed to investigate possible crimes against honor, insults and slander. Thus, the magistrate can go ahead and issue a civil sentence, considering that the two cases are not identical; or wait for the criminal process to finish beforehand. For Juan Ramón Montero Estevez, the Franco’s lawyer, there is not much left for the opening of that other oral trial. Bottle and Alejandro Martín, Babío’s lawyer, however, take his “dismissal” for granted.

Everything, in both cases, revolves around the program broadcast by Cuatro and produced by CZA, what He reviewed the incorporation into the family’s patrimony of assets such as the Meirás pazo —which the justice later assigned to the State, although the decision is being appealed before the Supreme Court—, the Canto del Pico palace, the Cornide house or the Valdefuentes estate. The 108-page lawsuit reproduces the report almost entirely to point out alleged falsehoods and damages caused by its claims. But the defenses answer that everything said in the program is based on previous documents and publications. “It is the right of information. They maintain that they were miserable and petty statements, but they forget to say that they were true, and that is what it is about ”, adds Botella.

In favor of his thesis, the Franco lawyer cites that the president of the foundation only agreed to participate in the report thanks to the “lie” that it would focus on the exhumation of the Valley of the Fallen, which was being settled in those days. He adds that the intervention of the prosecutor in favor of dismissing the lawsuit shows its “disheartening” affinity with “the government’s line, since it depends on a state attorney general. [Dolores Delgado] that she was Minister of Justice at the time of the exhumation ”. And also remember that Babío sent a complaint email to Mediaset after the broadcast. But the defense lawyer of the investigator, whose investigations, for three decades, of the history of Meirás served as the basis for the State to recover the pazo, responds: “He only indicated that he was not satisfied with the informative treatment of his statement.” I mean, he never suggested that something was false. Deciding that is only up to the judge, when she sees the report. Among so many media judgments, this time the verdict will really come before a television.

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