As halfwit, would-be dictator buried by UK judges, Spain would like to dig up a very real one

Court green-lights Franco's exhumation from opulent mountainside mausoleum

valley of the fallen
Valle de los Caídos, outside Madrid

The Supreme Court in Spain has ruled that the government can exhume the remains of General Francisco Franco, who became dictator after the Spanish Civil War in 1939 until his death in 1975.

Franco, against his wishes, was buried in an enormous cathedral and mausoleum built into the side of a mountain in the Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen) about 50km from Madrid.

The court has dismissed an appeal from Franco's family in favour of a government move to bury his remains somewhere less controversial, in a cemetery north of Madrid next to his wife. The family wanted his remains left where they were or moved to Madrid's Almudena cathedral.

Valle de los Caídos is claimed to be a memorial to all who died in the country's vicious civil war. Some 30,000 human remains are buried there, although only two graves are marked – Franco's and José Antonio Primo de Rivera's, founder of the Spanish fascist group Falange Española ("Spanish Phalanx").

The building, built by republican prisoners after the civil war ended in 1939, is topped by the world's largest cross, which can seen from miles around. It is hardly a big tourist draw, but Spanish families visit and there are fascist ceremonies at the site.

The case has been back and forwards for years with objections from Franco's family, and politicians as well as the Benedictines – the religious order who manage the site.

There is no certainty that this will end the argument because there will be another election in Spain on 10 November. The last one was held in April.

Both the family and the Catholic Church could try to delay things beyond that date.

Right-wing parties, particularly Vox, have opposed the exhumation of Franco and other remains from mass graves his forces left around the country during and after the civil war. A law to put this right was passed more than 10 years ago, but funding was removed when Partido Popular (People's Party) won the 2011 election.

More, in English, from el Pais here. ®

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