Spain relives notorious massacre after shotgun killer hangs himself in cell

Spain has relived one of its most infamous mass murders, with the death of one of the sheep farmers behind a shooting spree which left nine people dead in 1990.

The killings happened as the country was looking forward to showcasing the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and the World Expo in Seville. But the small-town tragedy, in which two brothers ran amok one summer afternoon, smacked of something out of Federico Garcia Lorca's rural revenge play Blood Wedding.

The massacre in the southwest hamlet of Puerto Hurraco, near Badajoz, became an embarrassing symbol of the most bloody veins of the country's history, what Spaniards refer to as "Black Spain". It was so gripping that in 2004 Spanish director Carlos Saura turned it into a movie, The Seventh Day.

One of the brothers, Antonio Izquierdo, 73, hanged himself with knotted bed sheets in his Badajoz prison cell on Sunday. He had just served 20 years of a 344-year sentence for the nine murders, and he had recently learned that he faced another five. His brother Emilio, also convicted of murder, died behind bars of a heart attack in 2006. Their sisters, who were acquitted of helping to plot the massacre, died within a year of each other at a psychiatric hospital, where they lived for 15 years.

The root of the blood bath? A decades-old land dispute between the Izquierdo family and their neighbours in the 140-person hamlet of Puerto Hurraco, the Cabanillas. That dispute blossomed into an outright feud when the mother of Antonio and Emilio Izquierdo died in a suspicious fire at her home. The fire's cause was never determined, but the brothers blamed the Cabanillas family. The massacre, in which two Cabanillas children were killed, was their revenge.

First, the brothers fired their shot guns in the village's only artery, Carrera de Puerto Hurraco, where 12-year-old Encarna Cabanillas and 14-year-old Antonia Cabanillas, were playing. A third sister, Maria del Carmen, narrowly escaped. She left the girls' game just a minute before the shooting. Then the brothers took aim indiscriminately at the elderly villagers, who sat on folding chairs along the street, gossiping and enjoying the scant afternoon breeze. The Izquierdo sisters, later diagnosed with paranoid delusions, were reportedly convinced that the entire town had sided with the Cabanillas family in the feud.

A local reporter, Jose Antonio Hernandez, recalled the surreal scene after the shooting: "Every family with their dead: that's what Puerto Hurraco was that afternoon," he wrote in Monday's El Pais.

"From one doorway you could see two coffins, smaller than the others, and white. Inside, two angelical girls, with the lids closed, incessantly watched by their pained mother, whose gaze seemed to say that the omen had been fulfilled."

A judge ruled out an insanity plea for the two brothers based on their professional success as sheep herders and land owners – and their bank account containing €60,000.

The Izquierdo brothers reportedly refused to repent for their vendetta while in jail. According to the local Badajoz newspaper Hoy, Antonio Izquierdo attended his brother's funeral handcuffed and limping, and whispered to the grave: "Brother, you go to heaven at age 74, but you go with the satisfaction of knowing that your mother was avenged."

Even before the 1990 bloodbath, the feud already claimed one life in Puerto Hurraco. A third Izquierdo brother, Jeronimo, beat to death the uncle of the girls' uncle. That brother was sent to a psychiatric hospital, where he died nine days later.

The last time Spain relived the Puerto Hurraco massacre was in 2004, when Mr Saura's film was released. The Izquierdo family opposed the production, as did the surviving Cabanillas sister. The regional government of Extremadura feared the film would destroy the area's image as a bucolic rural haven. Villagers, meanwhile, have braced themselves for the return of morbidly curious tourists who flocked to the hamlet after the crime.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
Life and Style
Researchers have said it could take only two questions to identify a problem with alcohol
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'
tvCilla review: A poignant ending to mini-series
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

LSA (afterschool club) vacancy in Newport

£40 per day + Travel Scheme : Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job: Our client ...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education are curre...

Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: You must:- Speak English as a first lang...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style