Spain paves way to remove Franco remains from mausoleum

Controversial memorial site Valley of the Fallen

Controversial memorial site Valley of the Fallen

Francisco Martinez-Bordiu, a grandson of Franco, described the government's exhumation plans as "barbaric", telling Antena 3 on Friday that descendants would assess their legal options for halting it.

The remains of De Rivera - who was killed by republicans in 1936 - will not be removed from the site, as the government has said he is a victim of the civil war.

"Democracy is incompatible with a tomb that honours the memory of Franco", deputy prime minister Carmen Calvo said on the passing of the decree.

A supporter of Spain's late dictator Francisco Franco walks outside El Valle de los Caidos (The Valley of the Fallen), the giant mausoleum holding the remains of Franco, in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, outside Madrid, Spain, August 24, 2018.

The Spanish general, who ruled over Spain as a military dictator for 36 years from 1939, is buried in a mausoleum in the outskirts of Madrid that is viewed as the only remaining monument in Europe to a fascist leader.

But it is fiercely opposed by Franco's descendants who are refusing to take his remains to the family sepulchral vault, and the main opposition conservative Popular Party (PP) which has warned it will challenge the decree in court. Spain's new Socialist government approved a decree on Friday to remove...

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The vast Valley of the Fallen complex is most conspicuous public legacy of Franco's rule.

A 2007 law passed under a previous Socialist government had already banned political gatherings at the Valley of the Fallen, where far-right groups used to attend a memorial mass on each anniversary of Franco's death on November 20, 1975.

His grandchildren are angry at the decision but the mausoleum at the Valley of the Fallen outside Madrid where he is buried has always been a pilgrimage site for members of the far right.

Recent polls suggest the Socialists would easily win a national election now, some indicating a lead of nearly 10 percentage points over the PP.

Parliament passed a non-binding motion past year to remove the remains from the mausoleum despite the PP's abstention. The abbot who runs the site and had appealed against other exhumations also declined to comment.

He filled the basilica with the remains of some 37,000 dead from both sides of the war, which was triggered by Franco's rebellion against an elected Republican government.

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