Artists, lawyers urge Spain to pursue Franco probe

21st November 2008, Comments 0 comments

More than 70 artists and lawyers have signed a document calling for a fair investigation into kidnappings under General Franco’s regime.

21 November 2008

MADRID – More than 70 cultural figures and lawyers urged the Spanish government Thursday to probe crimes against humanity under General Franco's regime - two days after a judge called off his own inquiry.

More than 40 lawyers signed a joint letter from Amnesty International demanding that the Spanish government "guarantee a sufficient judicial investigation into kidnappings during the Spanish civil war and the Franco era".

 Meanwhile, some 30 artists, including Portuguese Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago and Argentine writer Ernesto Sabato signed a document calling for "justice for the victims of Franco".

The letter was sent to an association seeking to "recuperate" historical memory, a group formed to help those who suffered under Franco's dictatorship.

Judge Baltasar Garzon said Tuesday that he was calling off his controversial investigation into the disappearances, which he described as "crimes against humanity".

The judge agreed in October to investigate the kidnappings of tens of thousands of people during the 1936-39 civil war and the ensuing Franco dictatorship, breaching an amnesty granted in 1977 for all crimes committed under his iron-fisted rule.

In recent years the "pacto de olvido" (agreement to forget) began to crumble, as associations emerged which sought to recover the remains of those shot and thrown into unmarked mass graves.

Their drive got a boost in 2007, with parliament's approval of the Law of Historical Memory which, for the first time, recognised the victims of the civil war and dictatorship.

The law obliges local administrations to cooperate in the search for victims of the Franco regime. It also requires statues, plaques and other symbols of the dictatorship to be removed from public buildings.

Garzon believes that a large number of the 114,266 people who went missing between July 1936 and December 1951 are buried in mass, unmarked graves.

[AFP / Expatica]

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