Spain unearths bodies of civil war victims

11th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

So far, three skulls have been found in the northwestern village of Santa Marta de Tera.

Santa Marta De Tera – The remains of some victims of Spain's civil war were unearthed for the first time Wednesday as part of an investigation launched by a leading judge.

The exhumation work began on Monday at a site in the northwestern village of Santa Marta de Tera under the supervision of a local judge, Tania Chico, and with the help of the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH).

The remains of eight people are believed to be buried in two graves at the site.

On Wednesday, the ARMH said three skulls were found.

"This could help other judges who are still hesitating to follow the judicial process" launched by Madrid Judge Baltasar Garzon, the vice president of the association, Santiago Macias, told AFP.

Garzon had announced in October he would probe the disappearances of 114,266 people during the civil war and the ensuing dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, which lasted until his death in 1975, with a view to filing charges for crimes against humanity.

He later bowed to a demand by public prosecutors and announced he was dropping the investigation.

But he also handed to regional courts the responsibility for the excavation of mass graves thought to contain the bodies of thousands of people who disappeared during the period.

Chico is the first judge to directly authorise such exhumations.

The grave opened Monday in the province of Zamora is believed to contain the remains of four farmers shot by Franco supporters in August 1936.

The ARMH suspects a second grave nearby contains four other men shot two months later.

Historians estimate that 500,000 people from both sides were killed in the civil war, which was sparked by Franco's Nationalist insurgency against the democratically elected left-wing Republican government.

A brutal wave of repression followed the Nationalists' victory as Franco sought to consolidate power.

ARMH, set up in 2000, has already recovered the remains of more than a thousand of those who disappeared, but separately from Garzon's investigation.

AFP / Expatica

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