THE Spanish Supreme Court has today (September 24) rejected an appeal against the exhumation of dictator Francisco Franco’s body.
Spain’s government plans to disinter him from his state mausoleum in the Valley of the Fallen west of Madrid.
The court unanimously rejected an appeal against the decision brought by Franco’s descendants.
They have strongly opposed any such move, saying he should be allowed to rest in peace.
It is an issue that has divided Spain for years. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist government has said Franco’s remains should be moved from the huge mausoleum so as to not “glorify” the dictatorship that ended with Franco’s death in 1975.
Opponents of the planned disinterment say that it is a politically motivated move that goes against the principle of reconciliation agreed when Spain’s democratic constitution was written.
But others say that the mausoleum is not simply a tourist site. They say that it has become a rallying point for far-right groups.
After years of arguments, the government decided to move Franco’s body next to his wife in the family tomb at Mingorrubio El Pardo, a state cemetery. This is the final resting place of many Spanish political figures.
The date for the action was set for June 10, but six days before, the Supreme Court ordered a halt to the exhumation while it considered the family’s appeal.
However, despite dismissing the family’s case there can be no date set for the act as the court still has three more appeals to hear. A court spokesman said that it was “foreseeable” that the judges would reach the same decision.
It took 19 years to build the massive mausoleum, partly using forced labour of political prisoners. The Valley of the Fallen is the final resting place of 37,000 dead from both sides of the civil war. It was partly designed to be a symbol of reconciliation, something that many left-wing sympathisers says is impossible to achieve with the dictator being buried there.
Critics have vowed to continue to oppose the move. Juan Chicharro Ortega, spokesman for the Francisco Franco Foundation, which has filed one of the remaining three appeals, said: “We will continue our legal battle to the end so Franco stays there.”