Spain: Family takes dictator’s exhumation to European court

MADRID (AP) — Descendants of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco have filed an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against the Spanish government’s exhumation and removal of Franco’s remains from a grandiose mausoleum outside Madrid last year.

Lawyers representing Franco’s grandchildren said in a statement Thursday that the family believes the government effectively “expropriated” the dictator’s remains with the exhumation last October as they now need permission to visit his new burial place.

They said the decision was based on a law that contravenes the European Convention of Human Rights and represents an infringement of the family’s rights.

Under Spain’s 2007 Historical Memory Law, the Socialist government exhumed Franco’s remains from the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum and reburied them in a small family crypt north of the capital. Franco had been in the mausoleum since shortly after his death in 1975.

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The government argued that a modern democratic state could not have a gargantuan shrine exalting a dictator.

It said the decision was a gesture to the hundreds of thousands of people who died in Spain’s 1936-39 Civil War, which Franco’s forces won, and to those who suffered persecution under his subsequent near-four-decade regime.

The appeal presented Wednesday also challenges rulings by Spain’s Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court backing the government.

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