The Madrid Provincial Prosecutor’s Office has archived the investigation that opened last December on the content of the conversations of a WhatsApp group called El Chat de la XIX del Aire in which various senior Army commanders retired they pour death threats and hopes of coups.
The promoters of the letter to the king celebrated in the chat the accessions of other soldiers but regretted that the coup of 1936 “will not be repeated.”
In the opinion of the Public Ministry, these messages do not constitute a hate speech crime because they were exposed in a “private” chat in which its members express opinions to the other participants “freely” and “in the confidence of being among friends ”and without there being any will to publicize them outside of that scope or to“ promote, encourage or incite hatred, hostility or violence ”towards a group of those expressly considered a vulnerable group.
In said WhatsApp forum, whose content was advanced by infoFree, ex-military from the XIX class of the General Air Academy referred to “pronouncements” and a retired major general, Francisco Beca, spoke of shooting 26 million “sons of bitches” and referred to Franco as the “unrepeatable” . In this chat, one of the letters sent to the king at the end of 2020 was also conceived in which they were made available to him in the face of the “deterioration” of the country at the hands of the Government.
The Ministry of Defense required the Public Ministry to investigate the “possible criminal relevance” of these demonstrations and to “safeguard the honor and public esteem of the Armed Forces and of the men and women that comprise them.” These comments were made by soldiers who went into retirement many years ago, “some more than 40 years ago,” so none of them have the military status of active duty or in the reserve, recalls the Prosecutor’s Office.
The prosecutor has not been able to access the full content of the chat as it is private, according to the Provincial Information Brigade. Yes, he has credited the veracity of the messages published that, in his opinion, “constitute the externalization of an opposition to undetermined and general actions of the Government” and that he frames within a “harsh” criticism protected by the right to freedom of expression and opinion. Although he affirms that the terms used can be described as “inappropriate, excessive and unfortunate”, he understands that they were not born with the intention of publicity, which is why he sees in them “a way of expressing dissatisfaction with the current political situation”.