Exhume dictator Franco, Spain commission recommends

29th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spain's late dictator Francisco Franco should be exhumed from his resting place in a mausoleum near Madrid and reburied elsewhere, an official commission recommended on Tuesday.

The commission of experts recommended his remains "be transferred to a place designated by the family, or to a place considered worthy and more suitable," they said in a report.

Franco's family has said it opposed his body being removed from the Valley of the Fallen, a sensitive historical site near Madrid.

Removal of the remains from the basilica at the site would require the Church's approval, the report said.

The underground tomb complex was constructed on Franco's orders between 1940 and 1958.

As well as Franco, experts say, the mass graves contain the remains of more than 33,847 people, both his supporters and Republicans who opposed them in Spain's 1936-39 Civil War, which ended with Franco in power.

Commission member Virgilio Zapatero, presenting the report at a news conference, said the commission proposed setting up a historical exhibition at the site in memory of all those killed, regardless of which side they were on.

"Spaniards have a right to detailed information on what happened," he said.

He said the report's release had been delayed until after the November 20 general election because of the site's political sensitivity.

For many Spaniards, the memorial site -- carved into the side of a mountain in part through the forced labour of thousands of political prisoners -- is their country's most divisive and potent reminder of the Franco era.

The Spanish government in 2007 passed a law that banned political rallies at the site, which is topped by a 150-metre (500-foot) high granite cross visible for miles around.

© 2011 AFP

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