- Title: Franco relatives arrive at Valley of the Fallen ahead of exhumation
- Date: 24th October 2019
- Summary: SAN LORENZO DE EL ESCORIAL, SPAIN (OCTOBER 24, 2019) (REUTERS) CARS PASSING THROUGH GATES
- Embargoed: 7th November 2019 08:13
- Keywords: former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco exhumation Valley of the Fallen Franco family Dolores Delgado
- Location: SAN LORENZO DE EL ESCORIAL, SPAIN
- City: SAN LORENZO DE EL ESCORIAL, SPAIN
- Country: Spain
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA004B2GHLQF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:EDITORS NOTE: EDIT IS PART LIVEU QUALITY
Family members of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco arrived at the Valley of the Fallen complex on Thursday (October 24) as Spanish authorities prepared to remove his remains from the state mausoleum, seeking to exorcise the ghost of a dictator whose legacy still divides the country more than four decades after his death.
Amid tight security and in virtual secrecy, his coffin will be taken from the Valley of the Fallen and reburied in a private family vault, transported either by helicopter or, if bad weather intervenes, by guarded motorcade.
With media prohibited, the exhumation ceremony will be witnessed by a select few: Justice Minister Dolores Delgado, a forensics expert, a priest, and 22 of Franco's descendants.
They include his oldest grandson Francisco Franco, who labelled the operation - and its low-key nature - a political ploy by the governing Socialist Party.
In government since mid-2018 and facing a national election next month, the Socialists have long sought to exhume Franco, who unleashed the civil war that killed around 500,000 people between 1936 and 1939.
They won backing for the decision to move his remains from a divided parliament, and the Supreme Court ratified it last year after dismissing a challenge from Franco's descendants.
The government estimates the move will cost up to 63,000 euros ($70,000).
Although Franco died in 1975, divisions within Spain over his removal from the Valley of the Fallen remain acute.
Franco's admirers saw him as a firm hand who fostered Spain's longest period of peace after centuries of turmoil.
Opponents, meanwhile, have long questioned the propriety of a dictator being buried alongside his victims. Thousands of dead Republicans were moved into the valley without their families' consent, while the complex itself was partially built using the forced labour of political prisoners.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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