March 2nd, 2010 Headsman
On this date in 1974, in the face of an international controversy, Spain executed anarchist Salvador Puig Antich — the very last execution by garrote.
As was the style at the time, the Catalan nationalist’s philosophy soon migrated to anarchism, and he brought his army experience to the Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación (MIL), whose direction-action credo entailed bank robberies branded as “expropriation.”
Puig Antich was caught in a police ambush that also claimed the life of a police officer — at least some of the bullets seemingly delivered by police friendly fire.
But his defense that his own gun discharged only as he was beaten senseless by the gendarmes never had a chance, since between arrest and trial, another set of proscribed leftists assassinated Prime Minister Luis Carrero Blanco.
Blanco’s successor went by the handle “Butcher of Malaga” for his depredations as a nationalist prosecutor during the Spanish Civil War.
So there was no quarter forthcoming from the Spanish regime, notwithstanding domestic general strikes and worldwide gnashing of teeth.
Salvador Puig Antich went on to a post-mortem existence as anarchist martyr. To help take the political edge off the scene, a non-political murderer, Heinz Ches (Spanish link), was garroted at almost the same time, in a different prison.
Spain soon did away with the discomfiting garrote; its very last executions were carried out by firing squad.
Salvador Puig Antich was the subject of a 2006 film, Salvador. (Here is a hostile anarchist review.)
The junior partner in the day’s twin killing, Heinz Ches, was himself the subject of a documentary, Nobody’s Death: The Enigma of Heinz Ches, exploring the weird near-total obscurity of the man who shared the headlines with Salvador Puig Antich. (A clip can be viewed here.)
Also on this date
- 1401: William Sawtre, Lollard heretic
- 1871: Ma Hualong, Dungan rebel
- 1886: David Roberts, dutiful son
- 1942: Jakub Lemberg and family
- 2006: Ali Afrawi and Mehdi Nawaseri
- 1585: William Parry, Vile and Base
- 2005: Han Bok-nam, whose death was illicitly filmed