Almodovar, Bardem star in video for Franco-era victims

14th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Fifteen top Spanish artists, including director Pedro Almodovar and actor Javier Bardem, appear in a new video in honour of the thousands of victims of Franco-era crimes unveiled Monday.

In the video they narrate the experiences of 15 men and women who were killed by General Francisco Franco's forces during Spain's 1936-39 civil war and the dictatorship that followed, whose remains have not been found.

It was made by a group of actors, directors, writers and musicians who oppose the Supreme Court decision in April to put top judge Baltasar Garzon on trial for abuse of power for opening a probe into Franco-era atrocities despite a parliament-approved amnesty to all involved in such crimes in 1977.

The group, gathered under the banner "Culture Against Impunity", want the charges against Garzon to be dropped and they urge the government to do more to find the remains of the opponents of the Franco regime scattered in mass graves across the country.

"It was a very emotional experience. It is not a political question, it is simply a humanitarian issue," Almodovar said in a message read by the director of the video, Azucena Rodriguez, who spent time in jail during Franco's regime.

The video, which was screened at a Madrid cinema before a handful of relatives of the victims whose experience it narrates, has been distributed to Spanish TV stations and posted on YouTube and other Internet sites.

"It was wonderful. It was a scream against such a long and shameful silence," said 79-year-old Hilda Farfante, whose parents were killed by Franco's forces.

The Association for the Recovery of Historic Memory, which works to help Spaniards locate the graves of loved ones who went missing during the civil war, estimates that 114,000 people were killed and buried in mass graves during the conflict which pitted Franco's right-wing forces against an elected left-wing government.

While Franco's regime honoured its own dead, it left its opponents buried in hundreds of unmarked graves across the country.

"It is important that these people have a voice. What the Supreme Court has done has the potential to kill democracy," said the president of the association, Emilio Silva.

Garzon opened a probe into the Franco-era disappearances in 2008, one year after the current socialist government passed a law condemning the dictatorship.

He dropped his probe within months of launching it after state prosecutors and conservative politicians questioned his jurisdiction.

No date for Garzon's trial has been set. If convicted he would avoid prison but could be suspended for up to 20 years, which would effectively end the career of the 54-year-old.

© 2010 AFP

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