Detained Spanish terrorist lived under false identity in Brazil for 17 years


A Spanish man who was convicted for the politically motivated killings of five people in Madrid in 1977 and arrested this week in Sao Paulo had been living in Brazil since 2001 under a false identity, police said Friday.

Carlos Garcia Julia, 65, had entered Brazil via the remote northwestern town of Roraima from Venezuela, Interpol’s regional representative in Sao Paulo, Reinaldo Campos Sperandio, said at a joint press conference with Brazilian Federal Police and Spanish National Police officials.

The fugitive had been carrying papers that identified him as a Venezuelan citizen named Genaro Antonio Materan Flores, but he had obtained just one temporary visa in Brazil back in 2009.

His arrest in Sao Paulo’s Barra Funda neighborhood was the culmination of a long and arduous joint investigation by Spanish and Brazilian authorities with the assistance of Interpol.

“This was laborious work, very methodical and systematic. We received word that he could be in some Latin American country and that he was using a false identity. We had been exchanging information with different countries. With luck and hard work, we discovered an important lead,” Spanish National Police Commissioner Marcos Frias Barbens said.

On Jan. 24, 1977, Garcia Julia and Jose Fernandez Cerra burst into the office of a labor law firm in Madrid’s Atocha neighborhood and started shooting.

Attorneys Enrique Valdelvira, Javier Sauquillo and Luis Javier Benavides, student Serafin Holgado and office administrator Angel Rodriguez died in the attack, while four other people were badly wounded.

What became known as the Atocha Massacre became one of the symbols of Spain’s transition to democracy, since the murders occurred just two months before the legalization of the Spanish Communist Party and five months before the country’s first democratic elections after four decades of dictatorship.

Garcia Julia, who was 24 when he committed the murders, was sentenced in 1980 by Spain’s National Court to 193 years behind bars for the five killings.

The former member of the political party New Force and other ultra-rightist groups was granted temporary parole and given permission to travel to Paraguay for a job offer after having served 14 years of his sentence.

When that permission was subsequently revoked and Spain requested his immediate return to serve out the rest of his prison term, Garcia Julia disappeared.

The fugitive lived for a time in Bolivia, where he had been jailed for a drug-related crime, and his presence was also detected in Chile, Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil, Spain’s National Police said Friday.