Spanish Supreme Court rules remains of Franco can be exhumed

The Spanish Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the body of the former Spanish leader General Franco can be exhumed from its resting place in the Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) monument to the north of Madrid and reburied.

The judges gave the go-ahead for the exhumation with an unanimous verdict, rejecting an appeal from Franco’s grandchildren against the decision taken by the Spanish government of acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

The remains of the man who ruled Spain from 1939 until his death in November 1975, will now almost certainly be buried next to those of his wife in the small village of El Pardo, where he had his official residence.

The exhumation of Franco’s remains was a key policy for Sanchez when he replaced the former People’s Party leader Mariano Rajoy as Spanish Prime Minister in June 2018, although it had faced opposition from Franco’s family and the Francisco Franco Foundation, as well as the religious community where the Valley of the Fallen is located.

Acting Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo welcomed the news, saying that the government would act quickly to move Franco’s body.

Sanchez, who is attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York, also expressed his satisfaction at the finding, tweeting that “today we have seen a great victory for Spanish democracy… The determination to redress the suffering of Franco’s victims has always guided the actions of the government.”

Franco came to power after leading a military uprising against the democratically elected Spanish Republican government which caused the Spanish civil war.

Franco’s continued presence in the Valley of the Fallen has long been a source of controversy, given that the monument was built by the slave labor of thousands of Republican prisoners, many of whom died during the task.

While Franco’s supporters insist the site is a monument to all civil war victims, opponents say it serves to glorify Franco and his repressive regime.