Spain parliament approves plan to dig up Franco's body

Royal decree passes by 172 in favour to two votes against

Tom Embury-Dennis
Thursday 13 September 2018 15:44
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Tourists queue to view Franco’s tomb in the basilica at the Valley of the Fallen near Madrid
Tourists queue to view Franco’s tomb in the basilica at the Valley of the Fallen near Madrid

The Spanish parliament has backed a government plan to dig up the remains of Francisco Franco and relocate it from a controversial mausoleum built in the former dictator's name.

Franco was buried in 1975 in the Valley of the Fallen, a shrine he ordered built 30 miles northwest of Madrid and topped with a 150-metre cross.

On Thursday the royal decree passed by 172 in favour to two votes against in a largely symbolic vote in the lower house, or the Congress of Deputies.

There were 164 abstained votes, from the centre-right Citizens and most of the Popular Party conservatives.

In August, Spain's new centre-left administration of Pedro Sanchez approved legal amendments to a 2007 law to allow an exhumation of Franco's tomb.

“Having Franco’s tomb there [at the Valley of the Fallen complex] shows a lack of respect... for the victims buried there,” deputy prime minister Carmen Calvo said at the time.

“Only the mortal remains of people who died as a result of the Spanish Civil War will lie in the Valley of the Fallen.”

There are plans to turn the mausoleum into a site commemorating the victims of the brutal three-year war. The government also aims to establish a “truth commission” and identify the 114,000 victims of the 1936-39 conflict and Franco’s 36-year dictatorship.

Some 34,000 people from both sides are buried at the Valley of the Fallen complex, most of them unidentified.

Proposals to remove Franco's body from the site have been discussed for years but faced opposition from his descendants and supporters.

Last year the conservative People’s Party, then leaders of the ruling coalition, argued removing Franco’s remains would ”stress and divide the nation“.

Franco’s family also criticised the move last month, but said they would take charge of his remains rather than leave them in the hands of the government.

Political events at the Valley of the Fallen were banned under the 2007 Memory Law, which formally condemned the dictatorship under Franco.

The monument took nearly 20 years to complete, and was officially opened in 1959.

Additional reporting by AP

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