General Franco's family given two week ultimatum to decide where dictator's body should be buried

Government says it will choose new site if relatives do not reach agreement

Peter Stubley
Sunday 17 February 2019 20:41

The descendants of former military dictator General Francisco Franco have been given a two-week ultimatum to decide where his body should be reburied.

Franco, who ruled Spain from 1939 to his death in 1975, is due to be exhumed from a mausoleum at the Valley of the Fallen near Madrid next month.

However, Spanish authorities have so far failed to agree a new burial site with the late dictator’s relatives.

They had wanted to move Franco’s remains to a family crypt under Madrid’s Almudena Cathedral, but the government said the site could lead to “public disorder”.

Justice minister Dolores Delgado said that if his descendants do not agree on a site or remain silent, the government will choose one itself.

“The family has been granted a 15-day period to decide where it wants to bury the remains of the dictator,” she told reporters.

The exhumation could still be delayed if the family appeals the decision at the Supreme Court.

Proposals to remove Franco’s body from the Valley of the Fallen, a monument to the victims of the Spanish Civil War, have been discussed for years.

They gained new impetus in June 2018 after prime minister Pedro Sanchez, who believes the symbolic gesture is needed to help the country come to terms with its troubled past, won power from conservative Mariano Rajoy.

The socialist government passed a decree authorising the exhumation in August and it was approved by parliament the following month.

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The decision last week to issue a deadline to Franco’s descendants was announced shortly after Mr Sanchez called an early general election for 28 April following the rejection of his budget by parliament.

Family attorney Luis Felipe Utrera described the government’s move as “pure propaganda” and said the Francos have the legal right to appeal.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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