A GRAVE opened as part of an investigation into babies stolen during and after Franco’s dictatorship has turned out to be empty.

A Malaga court had authorised the exhumation in Monda to carry out DNA testing to confirm the identity of the baby girl, believed to have been seized in February 1984.

Her mother Maria Del Pilar Guzman, who was then 24, saw her daughter for just a few seconds – enough to know she was alive – before she was taken away.

She had given birth to the infant, ‘who was smaller than normal’, at Malaga’s Materno Hospital.

Her husband Juan, with whom she is still together, was also at the hospital at the time.

“There was nothing there, not even a blanket or clothes, just an empty box with a cross on top,” said the mother this week.

“The doctor told me that she would be born alive, but she was bound to die and so they would not incubate her.

“It seemed strange to me at the time,” added the mother.

The same day, the mother signed a form supposedly to authorise an autopsy ‘without reading what was written.’

“Afterwards I bitterly regretted not having looked at it,” she added.

Suspiciously, the death was not recorded in the Registro Civil, even though the baby was supposedly buried in a tomb in Monda graveyard.

The investigation continues amid claims that up to 300,000 babies may have been stolen from mothers, under a shady system set up during Franco’s dictatorship.

Through the collusion of a network of nuns, priests and doctors, the babies were initially taken from mothers deemed to be politically subversive.

This however continued well in to the 1980s, a long time after Franco’s death.

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