Supreme Court green-lights removal of Franco remains

Members of Spain's 'Historical Memory' movement outside Supreme Court on Tuesday. Photo: Julián Rojas / El País
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► Unanimous decision rejects Franco family’s lawsuit against Sánchez gov’t
► Franco heirs to appeal, but former dictator’s disinterment seems inevitable

Spain’s Supreme Court on Tuesday gave the Socialist government of President Pedro Sánchez the green light to remove the remains of former dictator Francisco Franco from the Valley of the Fallen monument outside Madrid, unanimously rejecting an appeal by the Franco family and the Francisco Franco Foundation aimed at stopping the government action.

The unanimous ruling by six Supreme Court justices approved the government’s plan to transfer Franco’s remains from the current place of honour before the altar at the Basilica at the Valley of the Fallen complex outside Madrid to a crypt in the El Pardo-Mingorrubio cemetery north of the capital, where Franco’s wife Carmen Polo is also buried.

The Supreme Court decision all but ends the years-long saga to remove the former dictator’s remains from the site where they have been buried for the past 44 years. In 2017, Spain’s Congress passed a resolution calling for the government to exhume the remains and re-inter them elsewhere, but multiple court battles had deterred their actual removal until now.

In February of this year, the Sánchez government ordered the removal of Franco’s remains from the Valley of the Fallen site within 15 days, but immediately ran into two lawsuits filed by the Franco family.

The government then set 4th June as the date for removal of the remains, but was precluded by the Supreme Court decision to consider the family’s appeal and the issuance of an injunction halting the removal until the case could be decided.

There remain some obstacles to the actual remove of Franco’s remains, however. One is a pending injunction in a lower court in Madrid, in which a judge who has been antagonistic to the process claimed the government had not shown that sufficient safety measures are in place to carry out the exhumation. That injunction is now expected to be quashed, considering the Supreme Court decision Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the Franco family also promised to appeal the Supreme Court decision, first to Spain’s Tribuna Constitucional, in which they will claim their constitutional rights have been violated, and failing success in that venue to the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg. Even if those courts agree to hear the appeals, analysts say it is unlikely an emergency injunction will be issued to halt the disinterment and removal of Franco’s remains to El Pardo-Mingorrubio while the appeals are considered.

► Read More in Spanish at El País, El Diario and Público …

► Read More in English at El País and BBC News …

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