WORK started on Monday to exhume 128 victims of the Spanish Civil War from the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum near Madrid.
The Democratic Memory Ministry said that a specialist team will ‘look to recover those bodies and deliver them to their families to give them a dignified burial’.
The remains of some 33,000 people from both sides of the civil war were buried anonymously at the complex, which has been renamed as the Valley of Cuelgamuros.
Many of the remains were moved to the site from cemeteries and mass graves across Spain without families being informed.
The construction of the mausoleum was ordered by dictator General Francisco Franco and he was buried there in 1975, but his remains were relocated to a civilian cemetery in 2019.
His was the only marked grave along with that of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, who founded the fascist Falange party.
Primo de Rivera’s remains were removed from the site in April.
A laboratory has been set up in the basilica to allow archaeologists, forensic experts and scientific police to recover the 128 victims.
“This is not about politics, it is simply a matter of pure humanity,” a Democratic Memory Ministry statement said.
The democratic memory law which came into effect in October 2022 aims to turn the Valley of Cuelgamuros into a place of memory for the dark years of the Franco dictatorship.
It also promotes the search for victims who are buried in mass graves across Spain and annuls the criminal convictions of opponents of the Franco regime.
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