Judge pauses exhumations of Franco victims from controversial mausoleum in Spain

A MADRID court has ordered a pause to the exhumations of Civil War victims from a Francoist mausoleum after the granddaughter of a victim claimed the work could cause the desecration of the remains.

The exhumations are the first involving people whose bodies were moved from other parts of Spain after the war and reburied without their families’ consent at the Valley of the Cuelgamuros, north of Madrid.

The structure- built with forced labour on the orders of dictator General Franco- was known until recently as the Valley of the Fallen.

The woman, who requested an injunction in a case brought by Abogados Christianos (Christian Lawyers), who claim the exhumations violated her right to give her grandmother.- executed in 1936- a dignified burial.

The plaintiff has remained anonymous and has not given any media interviews.

Abogados Christianos said the Madrid judge granted the injunction based on the right to religious freedom, and ordered that the exhumations be halted until a ‘deeper understanding of the situation’ could be obtained.

The National Heritage agency, which manages the site, has been given three days to present evidence, after which the court will decide on its next move.

The crypts of the Valley of Cuelgamuros contain the remains of around 34,000 people who were buried anonymously there.

Following delays and legal challenges, the exhumation work of 128 bodies started in June.


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