Mass grave from Spain's civil war discovered

25th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

A mass grave dating from Spain's 1936-39 civil war which contains the bodies of 60 to 80 fighters shot by the forces of Francisco Franco has been discovered in northern Spain.

The remains of around 20 people have already been removed from the 30-metre (66-foot) long grave in the town of Villafranca Montes de Oca, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the city of Burgos, an AFP photographer at the scene reported.

Volunteers are conducting excavation work at the site at the request of the descendants of those who disappeared during the civil war.

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.

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

But Garzon was suspended from his post and is due to go on trial for abuse of power for opening the probe despite a parliament-approved amnesty to all involved in such crimes in 1977.

© 2010 AFP

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