Spain Court backs move of Franco to cemetery

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Spain’s Supreme Court has ruled that the remains of dictator Francisco Franco should be exhumed.

It backed the Socialist government’s plan to move the remains from a state mausoleum to a less controversial site.

An appeal by Franco’s family against the exhumation and proposing an alternative site was rejected.

The issue has divided opinion in Spain, which remains haunted by the Franco era. He won the 1930s civil war and went on to rule Spain until 1975.

In a unanimous ruling, the court said it had decided to “completely reject the appeal lodged by the family in relation to Francisco Franco’s exhumation”.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez hailed the decision as a “great victory for democracy”.

Franco currently lies in a huge mausoleum called the Valley of the Fallen, alongside tens of thousands of civil war dead.

Many revile the complex as a monument to the triumph of fascism, and it has become a shrine for the far right.

The government approved the exhumation in August. Report says that, following the ruling, the government could exhume Franco before elections on 10 November.

It plans to put him next to his wife in El Pardo cemetery north of Madrid, where various other politicians are interred.

Many descendents of Franco’s victims support the move.

“The idea that people who were killed by Franco’s troops are buried together with Franco, it’s very absurd, and they’re still glorifying him as if he was the saviour of Spain,” Silvia Navarro, whose great uncle died in 1936, told reporters.

But the family, who would rather he was not moved at all, wanted him to lie in a family crypt in the Almudena Cathedral – right in the centre of the capital.

The government argued that the former dictator should not be placed anywhere but where he could be glorified. It also said there were potential security issues with the cathedral site.

The controversy comes at a time of political crisis in Spain, as the country prepares for its fourth general election in four years.

Olusola Akintonde