Court ruling quashes last obstacles to Franco removal

Image of Franco's tomb at Valley of Fallen during mass celebrated in his honour in 2018. Photo: EFE via El Confidencial
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► Supreme Court overrides specious injunction, Benedictine prior’s objections
► ‘Really about moving a slab, extracting the remains and replacing flooring …’

Spain’s Supreme Court on Monday published its full 54-page ruling in the rejection of appeals by attorneys for the family of former dictator Francisco Franco against the government’s plan to disinter Franco’s remains from their current place of honour at the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum complex outside Madrid and move them to a simple family crypt in the El Pardo-Mingorrubio cemetery north of Madrid.

The Socialist party (PSOE) government of acting-President Pedro Sánchez said last Friday that the removal of the Franco remains will be carried out “as soon as possible” and government sources speaking to the Spanish press have indicated it will likely take place on Monday 21st October.

In outlining their arguments, the panel of judges hearing the case overrode a specious finding by a lower-court judge that the removal of Franco’s remains could not be carried out because of technicalities related to a public works permit.

Madrid court judge José Yusty Bastarreche, who has publicly expressed opposition to government efforts to enforces Spain’s Historical Memory legislation dealing with the Spanish Civil War and the Franco-era dictatorship, had issued an injunction barring the removal of the remains on the basis that it was a major public work and required special safety measures that had not been assured. The Supreme Court virtually scoffed at that claim, saying “After all, this is really about raising a slab, extracting the remains and replacing the original flooring.”

The judges also overruled the objections by the Santiago Cantera, a former political candidate for a far-right party in Spain who became a Catholic priest and is currently prior of the Benedectine monks in charge of the Basilica at the Valley of the Fallen, where Franco was buried with full state honors in 1975. The Supreme Court ruling held that the Valley of the Fallen monument is financed by and under the full control of the Spanish state and that neither the Catholic church nor Franco’s family had any rights over whether or not the former dictator’s remains can be buried there.

Finally, the judges appeared to pointedly demote the honour accorded Franco in previous considerations, referring to the former dictator in the most-recent ruling as simply the “head of the state that emerged from the Civil War”.

When the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case last June, it referred to the former dictator “head of state from October 1, 1936 until his death” in 1975, generating a storm of criticism from those who reminded the court that Franco had come to power after a military uprising in 1936 against Spain’s democratically elected Republican government.

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

► Click to read more news about former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco …

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