Spain’s supreme court has ruled in favour of moving the remains of the former dictator Francisco Franco away from the state mausoleum in which he was buried when he died in 1975, possibly putting an end to decades of controversy over his burial place.
This should allow the government of the Socialist Pedro Sánchez to go ahead with its plans to move the remains from the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum to the family tomb at Mingorrubio El Pardo, a state cemetery on the outskirts of Madrid.
Franco, who ruled Spain from his victory in the 1936-39 civil war until his death, remains a contentious political touchstone in Spain.
The Socialists have long sought to turn the Valley of the Fallen complex outside Madrid into a memorial to victims of the civil war, unleashed by Franco, in which about 500,000 people were killed.
Nearly 34,000 dead from the civil war are buried there, including many who fought for the losing Republican side and whose bodies were transferred to the site during Franco’s dictatorship without the permission of families.
Franco’s family had appealed both against exhuming his remains and against the government’s plans to move them to the El Pardo cemetery. Were his remains to be moved, they wanted them to go to the Almudena Roman Catholic Cathedral adjacent to the Royal Palace in central Madrid, alongside his daughter.
A government report said last December that the Almudena cathedral was unsuitable as a burial place for security reasons.