HE always said he would only ever answer to God and history. Now Francisco Franco has the verdict of the latter.

Spain’s late dictator, a court has ruled, can now be moved from the giant fascistic mausoleum complex he had built for himself.

The mass murderer has lain in the Valley of the Fallen outside Madrid since his 1975 death sparked both a new era of democracy - but also decades of often awkward silence over his crimes under what became know as the “pact of forgetting”.


Now Spain has decided to remember. On Tuesday Spain’s Supreme Court gave the country’s caretaker government the right to move the tyrant from his monumental grave to a private cemetery.

Six judges unanimously rejected an appeal by Franco’s relatives against the government’s plan to move the body to a cemetery on the capital’s outskirts.

Leftist parties and families of many Spanish Civil War victims have long wanted Franco out of the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum, a major tourist attraction.


Others have argued the move would reopen old wounds.

Some 34,000 people from both sides in the 1936-39 civil war are also buried there, most of them never identified.

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Franco’s family had hoped to block the exhumation or at least have the body reburied in central Madrid’s Almudena Cathedral, an idea vehemently opposed by the government. They did not want to create a fascist pilgrimage site in their capital.

The ruling came as Spain’s parliament was dissolved and elections officially set for November 10. Opposition parties have accused the Socialists of planning to use the exhumation for electoral purposes.

The court decision cannot be appealed against but lawyer Luis Felipe Utrera said the dictator’s relatives intended to take “the legal battle to the end” by going to the country’s Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights.


“The government is prohibiting a family from burying where they deem convenient,” Mr Utrera told Spanish public broadcaster TVE. Such legal challenges would not immediately stop the Socialist executive’s plans.

Caretaker prime minister Pedro Sanchez celebrated the decision in a tweet: “The determination to make up for the suffering of the victims of Francoism has always guided the government’s action.”

His deputy, Carmen Calvo, said the government intended to proceed with the exhumation “as soon as possible”.

Bonifacio Sanchez, spokesman for Spain’s Association of Historical Memory, which has long fought for the body’s removal, welcomed the decision but opposed the government plan to take it to the El Pardo cemetery outside Madrid.

The cemetery is a publicly financed place and the remains should be given to the family for burial in a private location, he said.

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He also dismissed the Franco’s family’s plans to appeal, saying: “The state cannot be dependent on what the family of one that has committed genocide says.”

Experts have estimated 114,000 bodies from the civil war are still buried in 2,500 mass graves across the country, most of them unmarked.


Santiago Abascal, leader of the far-right Vox party, said he would oppose the Supreme Court decision “because only Vox has the courage to defend freedom and common sense from totalitarianism and electoral propaganda tricks”.

Spain passed an Amnesty law in 1977 protecting Franco’s corrupt or violent lieutenants as part of its “transition” to democracy. Thirty years later another law recognised the war victims on both sides.