Spain court refuses request to exhume body of Francisco Franco
Spain court refuses request to exhume body of Francisco Franco

Spain’s Supreme Court dismissed [press release, in Spanish] a petition on Tuesday that sought to exhume the body of former dictator Francisco Franco and move the remains to a different location. Baltasar Garzón, a former judge, proposed [Reuters report] to the court in November 2015 that the Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen), Franco’s resting place, be turned into a memorial for victims of the dictator’s regime. He requested that Franco’s remains be moved to another location decided by his family. The petition also requested [Proceso report, in Spanish] that bodies buried at the site be exhumed and identified and for any Francoist symbolism in cities and towns to be suppressed. Garzón’s petition also included a request for a public apology to victims of the dictatorial rule. Garzón and his lawyers said they plan to appeal the decision to the country’s Constitutional Court, and if necessary, the European Court of Human Rights.

In November 2008, the Spanish Supreme Court charged then-judge Garzón with abuse of power after opening an investigation [JURIST report] into the war crimes through his 2008 order requiring the exhumation of 19 mass graves in Spain. Garzón had claimed the indictment was politically-motivated, compromised judicial independence and sought to impose a specific interpretation of the 1977 amnesty law. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern [JURIST report] over Garzón’s trial, indicating that judges should not be criminally charged for investigations performed within the scope of their judicial duties. He was later cleared [Reuters report] of any charges. The dictatorship of Francisco Franco [History backgrounder] lasted from 1939 to 1975, coming into power with the help of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. In 2014 a UN expert urged [JURIST report] Spanish authorities to trust their democracy and “not postpone measures for justice, truth and reparation for the victims of human rights violations” committed during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War and the Franco era.