Spanish superspy dies for second time after faking his own death

A Spanish superspy nicknamed “the fox” has died – 25 years after he had staged his first death.

Francisco Paesa died earlier this year aged 87, paperwork filed in May by a town hall in Bois-Colombes, a Parisian suburb, shows.

He was known to have suffered ill health, and the address given as the place of death corresponds to a hospital.

But the fact the death certificate was signed off by a nurse who happened to also be the spy’s daughter sparked speculation Mr Paesa may have tried to pull yet another trick.

Mr Paesa became one of Spain’s most famous spies in the 1980s after he successfully posed as an arms dealer to sell two Russian-made missiles to ETA, the Basque terrorist organisation, fitted with tracking devices which led to the discovery of the group’s largest arms cache.

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In the mid-1990s, there were also allegations he played the role of a middleman between Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González’s government and the Anti-Terrorist Liberation Group (GAL), set up by the country’s interior ministry to carry out attacks in southwestern France on suspected ETA members.

However, courts found insufficient evidence to convict Mr Paesa of any GAL-related charges.

Mr Paesa fled his country in the 1990s following allegations of involvement in a high-profile embezzlement scandal including Luis Roldán, the former head of the Guardia Civil police force, and missing public funds.

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In 1998, the superspy faked a fatal cardiac arrest in Thailand, a ruse which included the publication of obituaries and the forging of a death certificate.

His family went as far as asking the Dominican monks at San Pedro de Cardeña, near Burgos, to pray for his soul.

The fake nature of the death was discovered six years later, when the Spanish newspaper El Mundo published a recent photograph of Mr Paesa smoking a cigarette.

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At the time it was claimed the spy was living in Luxemburg under a false name and with an Argentinian passport.

In 2004, a judge ruled the charges he faced in connection with the Roldán case had timed out, granting Mr Paesa a freer life.

In the early 2010s, he travelled to Sierra Leone, reportedly to represent a French lawyer and verify on their behalf a cargo of antiques.

During that adventure, he was detained by border guards, which prompted Mr Paesa to turn for help to Spanish officials who flew him to France, where he was released without charges.

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