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General Manuel Fernández-Monzón of the Spanish reserves has denied that there were murders during Francisco Franco's dictatorship. Instead, he said, there were people "sentenced" by "absolutely legal" courts. The general is one of five reserve officers being investigated by the ministry of defence for signing a manifesto praising the former Spanish dictator.

Specifically, Fernández-Monzón said they "were all sentenced by the absolutely legal courts of that time, which were courts martial". He made the comments to El Programa del Verano (link in Spanish) on Spanish channel Telecinco.

He also denied the commonly cited figure of 140,000 people who disappeared during and after the Civil War, saying the true number is "much lower". He claims this has been demonstrated by "very recent investigations".

Later, he attacked former Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, claiming he ended the peace and reconciliation process of the transition to democracy, which "was perfectly completed", with his "law of historic hate". Zapatero passed, in 2007, the Ley de Memoria Histórica (law of historical memory) which, among other provisions, condemned the Francoist state and removed still existing symbols from public spaces, recognised the victims on both sides of the conflict, declared the sentences of the military courts void and gave state help for finding those still missing.

No notification

With respect to the investigation started by the ministry of defence, Fernández-Monzón told Europa Press that he has received "nothing", no notification or communication.

The investigating judge in the case, lieutenant-general Miguel Ángel Villarroya, will call all those under investigation to testify and will ask them whether they stand by the manifesto's contents or not. Following that, defence minister Margarita Robles will receive a recommendation on the case and will decide on the possible sanctions against the five reservists.