chapter  10
14 Pages

Under the Judicial Hammer

In addition to offering an avenue for the expression of consent, the courts also provided the chance to win further support, and indeed the Franco regime saw the sentences handed down by its military judges as means to justify both its repression and its right to power. This is why the sentences passed by military judges for the fi rst years of the Civil War always began with an obligatory preamble in which judges declared that on 17 July 1936 the Spanish army had assumed the legitimate powers of the state under its constitutional duty to defend the nation from its enemies. Unsurprisingly, these enemies took the form of Popular Front supporters who the judges alleged had ‘hijacked’ the government and who by making a stand against the ‘Spanish army’—that is, those supporting the revolt of July 1936-stood guilty of military rebellion.3 At the crux of these efforts to legitimise the revolt, the regime and the repression, sat the collaboration of ordinary citizens. For as Franco’s chief military judge, Colonel Martínez Fusset, explained to the British in December 1938 the legitimacy of the sentences lay in the fact that in proceedings ‘numerous witnesses testify’.4