Spain employs murderer as security expert

Tue, Feb 26, 2013, 00:00

A man who carried out one of the most notorious murders of Spain’s democratic transition is currently employed by the country’s interior ministry as a security expert, according to a newspaper exposé.

Emilio Hellin was a member of the far-right group Fuerza Nueva when he shot dead a student, Yolanda González (19), in 1980. Two years later he was sentenced to 43 years in jail, serving 14 years.

However, an article published by El País newspaper on Sunday reports that he has changed his name and is now a senior adviser to Spain’s civil guard on terrorism and crime, as well as training and giving conferences to the police.

The interior ministry is investigating the identity of this expert on its payroll in light of the revelations, El País said yesterday.

“He’s one of the best-trained civil experts and he’s way ahead when it comes to certain specialist areas,” Ramin Garcia, a now retired senior civil guard, told the newspaper. “I don’t know anything about the past of this gentleman, all I know is that he’s always given us what we have wanted.”

Changed name

The paper said Hellin (63) had changed his name to Luis Enrique Helling. He specialises in tracing mobile phones and computers that have been used for criminal purposes.

When he carried out the murder, the dictator Francisco Franco had died only five years earlier and the country was in a period of political turmoil as it adjusted to democracy. Political violence was common, but even so, the killing shocked Spain.

Hellin and several other members of Fuerza Nueva had erroneously identified González, a socialist sympathiser, as a member of Basque terrorist group ETA. They abducted her in Madrid, drove her to the outskirts of the city and Hellin shot her twice in the head.

One of the conspirators confessed to the crime, leading to Hellin’s arrest and 1982 conviction. Then in 1987, he fled to Paraguay while on a short prison leave. He and his family were taken in by the right-wing dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner and Hellin worked as an adviser to the Paraguayan security forces until his extradition to Spain three years later.

He was released in 1996, when he apparently changed his name and embarked on a new career leading to his current relationship with the security forces.

When El País confronted him for its exposé, he claimed to be a brother of the convicted murderer and that Emilio Hellin was now dead. But the death is not registered in official records and the newspaper tracked down the name change.

“It’s outrageous that this man should be doing that job,” said Asier González, the brother of the murdered woman.

“I don’t know if he regrets it [the killing]. Everyone has the right to a second chance, but if he does it with a new identity, it just shows the kind of person he is.. . . it’s clear that in this country people linked to the extreme right enjoy privileges.”