Franco’s remains were planned to be dug up on Monday 10 June, but the Supreme Court has unanimously decided to suspend the operation, pending the result of an appeal by the family of the dictator.
The court said in a statement that it meant to prevent Franco’s remains from being moved before appeals be examined in full.
The exhumation of the former fascist dictator has been delayed several times in recent years.
The issue has divided public opinion since Spain’s socialist government, led by Pedro Sanchez, announced the decision in March 2019.
The plan was to move Franco’s remains from the Valley of the Fallen, the state mausoleum where he has buried since 1975, to Madrid’s El Pardo cemetery, where he would be buried next to his wife.
Franco’s family appealed against the decision, with seven grandchildren speaking of “irreparable damage” if the exhumation went ahead, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais.
The Socialists have long sought to turn the Valley of the Fallen, seen by many as a monument to fascism, into a memorial to the victims of the 1936-39 Spanish civil war in which about half a million civilians and fighters lost their lives.
After the Supreme Court announcement, the acting Socialist government, which won a national election in April, said it was convinced the court would throw out the family’s appeals and allow the exhumation to go ahead in the next few months.
Some in Spain are unhappy with the decision.
Hundreds still nostalgic for the Franco era have even staged protests at the Valley of the Fallen, despite a 2007 ban on public events supporting the old regime.
Fresh flowers are always on display at his imposing tomb and it remains a popular pilgrimage destination for those in Spain who cling to a sympathetic view of the dictatorship.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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