SPAIN’S solicitor general’s office is taking legal action against the family of Francisco Franco in a bid to take ownership of 564 items that are currently inside the dictator’s former summer home, the Pazo de Meirás in Galicia.
The manor house itself, which is located in A Coruña province, was the subject of a long legal battle, which eventually saw a judge rule in September 2020 that the Franco family had to return it to the state. The ruling found that the property had been given to the general in his role as head of state after the Spanish Civil War (1936-39, and not in a personal capacity.
The legal challenge began when it emerged in 2018 that the dictator’s grandchildren were trying to sell the palace for around €8 million, something that caused a public outcry at the time.
After the ruling, the public were able to enter the Pazo for the first time in June 2021, for guided tours. But the Franco family continued to fight in the courts, and have appealed the ruling that saw them lose ownership of the property at the Supreme Court and also have been laying claim to its contents.
In July, a court in A Coruña granted the state custody of the items contained inside the house. Some of these were acquired at the time it was occupied by Franco, while others were accumulated between then and his death in 1975.
This latest lawsuit seeks to recover 564 items for the state, and has been filed by the solicitor general’s office in Madrid, which is where Franco’s relatives reside. The list includes items considered to be “national treasures.”
The Franco family also mounted legal battles in the courts against the exhumation of the former dictator, which was approved by the Congress of Deputies, Spain’s lower house of parliament. But in the end they were unsuccessful and his remains were transferred to a cemetery in Madrid on October 24, 2019.
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What does that mean exactly, that the estate and its contents have to be returned to the State? Under what law? And when exactly did the Socialist run “State” own the property? If it is to be confiscated at all, should it not be returned to its original owners?