Glass eye found during the exhumation of remains of a mass grave at cemetery in Spain helps to identify body

THE skeletal remains of a Spanish man executed at the hands of General Franco has been uncovered in Alicante – and thanks to his ‘perfectly’ preserved glass eye, experts have been able to reveal his identity to his long suffering family

The body, believed to belong to Francisco Alcolea Cremades, was found by investigators searching for victims of Franco’s dreaded regime,  which reached its height in the 1940s.

The false eye was also unearthed during the exhumation, just to the side of the corpse, as experts continue the careful exhumations of two mass graves that first began in February 2021. 

Following the unusual discovery, the man’s family finally received the call they have been waiting over 80 years for. 

Grandson Francisco Paco Alcolea has dedicated his life to searching for his grandfather’s body after history books placed the former farm labourer at the site. 

Alcolea Cremades often travelled to France for seasonal work, where he had an accident in which he partially lost his sight and earned the moniker ‘the one with the glass eye’. 

Historians believe his corpse was dumped in a pit in 1941 after he was sentenced to death, along with 18 others accused of lynching members of a pro-military rebellion family four years earlier. 

He was arrested shortly after the Valencia region fell to Franco’s forces and held in prison until February 1941, when a military trial lasting an hour found him and 18 others guilty of participating in the lynching of three men, previously arrested and released by the republic’s authorities for encouraging the military coup.

Determined to find his grandfather,  Paco Alcolea had previously urged the authorities carrying out the exhumations to look out for a glass eye. 

“I have been going to the cemetery every week to see how the excavations are going,” said the dedicated grandson. “I kept telling them to please pay attention because . . . he was missing an eye and wearing a glass one. It appeared and there was no doubt. It is closing a wound.”

His lucky day finally arrived when he received a phone call from historian Jose Ramon Garcia Gandia, who revealed that a prosthetic glass eye, preserved ‘in perfect condition’ was found ‘on the side of the body, at the height of what could be his trouser pocket’ along with a packet of cigarettes and two pencil leads, according to the excavation’s director.

His grandson is now ‘excited but cautious’ as he and the rest of his family await the results of a DNA test to confirm that they have finally found the grandfather they have been searching for for more than eight decades after the Spanish civil war. 

Experts believe that the mass grave in Alicante is one of more than 4,000 across the country containing more than 100,000 victims.

Throughout Alicante Province, some 400 people from various municipalities disappeared as victims of Franco’s repression, many believed to have been executed after a summary trial.

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