Anarchist Scot in bid for conviction quash

A GLASGOW-BORN anarchist convicted of being part of a failed attempt to assassinate Spanish dictator General Franco almost half a century ago has launched a legal bid to overturn his sentence.

Stuart Christie was convicted in 1964 of terrorism and banditry after he was arrested for smuggling plastic explosives concealed underneath a thick jumper that was knitted by his grandmother.

He spent three years in one of Franco's jails after being ordered to serve a 20-year sentence.

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Christie was just a teenager when he was recruited to execute the plot. The 18-year-old collected explosives from a highly secretive anarchist organisation known as Defensa Interior in Paris.

He then went on to trek through the Pyrenees to reach Barcelona and then Madrid, where he was supposed to meet a "contact" who would help complete the plan.

However, as he waited in an American Express office he was arrested at gunpoint by forces who were expecting him.

Christie, who is now 65 and a publisher, is demanding that his 20-year sentence is overturned.

He claims that the military courts under Franco were illegal.

He said: "The regime was less legitimate even than Hitler's, which was elected, whereas Franco staged a military coup. I want Spain to condemn these courts."

Christie applied for the conviction to be overturned in 2009 and even wrote a letter to the Spanish prime minister but has yet to receive a reply.

Severando Rocha, who is representing Christie, said his client could receive a certificate of recognition and reparation that would recognise that he suffered under the military courts of Franco.

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But Rocha said the courts will not be declared illegal as such a move would see huge compensation packages for many people. The certificate is drawn up in such a way that it prevents victims from receiving compensation.

Christie is unrepentant about his role in the unsuccessful plot. He said: "It seemed like Franco was about to start a new wave of repression.

"You either stand aside or you act. I chose to act."