Spain to Exhume Dictator Franco’s Remains to Discreet Grave

In this Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 photo, a visitors holds a portrait of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco at the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum near El Escorial, outskirts of Madrid, Spain. (AP Photo/Alfonso Ruiz)

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s Socialist government says it will exhume and relocate the remains of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco on Thursday, bringing closer to an end a move that has sparked much criticism and legal battles.

In a statement Monday, the government said the remains would be taken from the grandiose mausoleum at the Valley of the Fallen complex outside Madrid and moved to a cemetery close to the capital where the Franco family has a crypt.

The government plans to transport the remains over the 35-kilometer (21-mile) distance by helicopter. It said it will begin the exhumation operation at 10:30 a.m. (0830 GMT) Thursday.

The statement said the operation will be a private affair, with only Franco’s relatives and some government officials allowed to attend. The media will be able to witness it from outside.

FILE, In this Nov. 20, 1938 file photo, former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, centre, attends the second anniversary of the death of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the Spanish right-wing movement La Falange, in Burgos, Spain. (AP Photo)

The procedure was authorized after the Supreme Court recently dismissed the objections by Franco’s family, ending months of delays.

The interim government is pushing ahead with the exhumation before Spain holds a general election on Nov. 10 in which acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez hopes to regain the full powers of his office.

Franco ruled Spain between 1939 and 1975 after he led a rebellion against the Spanish democratic government in 1936 that started the Spanish Civil War.

For many years, thousands of people commemorated the anniversaries of his Nov. 20, 1975 death in Madrid. And although Franco’s popularity has waned immensely, the exhumation has been criticized by the dictator’s relatives, Spain’s three main right-wing parties and some members of the Catholic Church for opening the country’s old political wounds.

The exhumation follows a 2007 Historical Memory Law that aimed to seek redress for the estimated 100,000 Franco victims who are buried in unmarked graves, including thousands at the Valley of the Fallen. The law prohibited having Franco’s remains in a place that exalted him as a political figure.


BY CIARÁN GILES Associated Press

A monk walks in front of The Valley of the Fallen mausoleum near El Escorial, outskirts of Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. After a tortuous judicial and public relations battle, Spain’s Socialist government has announced that Gen. Francisco Franco’s embalmed body will be relocated from a controversial shrine to a small public cemetery where the former dictator’s remains will lie along his deceased wife. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

In this Friday, April 5, 2019 photo, a view inside Franco’s family tomb in Mingorrubio’s cemetery, outskirts of Madrid. After a tortuous judicial and public relations battle, Spain’s Socialist government has announced that Gen. Francisco Franco’s embalmed body will be relocated from a controversial shrine to a small public cemetery where the former dictator’s remains will lie along his deceased wife. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
In this Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 photo, the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum is seen near El Escorial, outskirts of Madrid, Spain. After a tortuous judicial and public relations battle, Spain’s Socialist government has announced that Gen. Francisco Franco’s embalmed body will be relocated from a controversial shrine to a small public cemetery where the former dictator’s remains will lie along his deceased wife. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
In this Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 photo, a man makes the fascist salute at the tomb of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the Spanish right-wing movement La Falange, inside the basilica at the Valley of the Fallen monument near El Escorial, outside Madrid. After a tortuous judicial and public relations battle, Spain’s Socialist government has announced that Gen. Francisco Franco’s embalmed body will be relocated from a controversial shrine to a small public cemetery where the former dictator’s remains will lie along his deceased wife. (AP Photo/Alfonso Ruiz)
In this Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019 photo, a worshiper holds a rosary at the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum near El Escorial, outskirts of Madrid, Spain. After a tortuous judicial and public relations battle, Spain’s Socialist government has announced that Gen. Francisco Franco’s embalmed body will be relocated from a controversial shrine to a small public cemetery where the former dictator’s remains will lie along his deceased wife. (AP Photo/Alfonso Ruiz)
In this Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 photo, a man kisses the tomb of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco inside the basilica at the Valley of the Fallen monument near El Escorial, outside Madrid. After a tortuous judicial and public relations battle, Spain’s Socialist government has announced that Gen. Francisco Franco’s embalmed body will be relocated from a controversial shrine to a small public cemetery where the former dictator’s remains will lie along his deceased wife. (AP Photo/Alfonso Ruiz)
In this Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 photo, visitors queue to enter at the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum near El Escorial, outskirts of Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. After a tortuous judicial and public relations battle, Spain’s Socialist government has announced that Gen. Francisco Franco’s embalmed body will be relocated from a controversial shrine to a small public cemetery where the former dictator’s remains will lie along his deceased wife. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
In this Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 photo, people visit the tomb of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco inside the basilica at the Valley of the Fallen monument near El Escorial, outside Madrid. After a tortuous judicial and public relations battle, Spain’s Socialist government has announced that Gen. Francisco Franco’s embalmed body will be relocated from a controversial shrine to a small public cemetery where the former dictator’s remains will lie along his deceased wife. (AP Photo/Alfonso Ruiz)

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