AMID tight security, the body of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco is being moved from the Valley of the Fallen today.
The exhumation will begin with a ceremony at around 10:30am (08:30am GMT), before Franco is rubried in a private family vault in the Mingorrubio cemetery in the north of Madrid.
Access to the ceremony will be restricted to a select few, including Justice Minister Dolores Delgado, a forensics expert, a priest and 22 of Franco’s family members.
The exhumation has been fiercely criticised by Franco sympathisers and far-right party Vox.
“I feel a great deal of rage because they have used something as cowardly as digging up a corpse, using a body as propaganda and political publicity to win a handful of votes before an election,” his grandson said.
The Valley of the Fallen is the resting place of more than 30,000 dead from both sides of the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War, in which Franco’s Nationalists defeated the Republicans.
It was partially built by Republican prisoners subjected to forced labour.
An El Mundo poll from earlier this month found that 43% of Spaniards were in support of the exhumation and 32.5% were against it.
Latest reports from the Valley of the Fallen say that a number of Franco sympathisers have gathered at the gates to the monument site with banners reading ‘Franco Vive.’
The Franco family are already at the site, having arrived in a blacked out minibus.