Judge in Madrid revokes licence to excavate Franco victims

by Lorraine Williamson
Franco victims

Madrid’s 10th Administrative Court has annulled the permit granted by the municipal council of San Lorenzo de El Escorial to access the crypts containing the victims of Franco in the former ‘Valle de los Caídos’, now known as Valle de Cuelgamuros. 

The building permit is needed to continue excavating the remains of victims of Francoism and the Civil War. The ruling, granting the appeal by the Fundación Francisco Franco and the Society for Reconciliation and Historical Remembrance, was seen by Spanish newspaper Europa Press.  

The appeal is against the San Lorenzo de El Escorial municipal council’s decision granting a building permit. The permit related to the entrances to the crypts of the Basilica. The plaintiffs argued that the works do not “have the status of maintenance or rehabilitation works. Instead, they are consolidation, demolition and new construction works”. 

The ruling comes after the government began last June to exhume Civil War casualties in the valley. To comply with the Democratic Remembrance Act, it was renamed, Valley of Cuelgamuros in 2022,

On 13 March, the Supreme Court gave the green light for the exhumation of the remains of the victims of the Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship buried in the Valley of the Fallen by rejecting the appeal of the Fundación Francisco Franco. 

Cogesa Expats

Furthermore, the judge now agrees to annul the San Lorenzo de El Escorial city council’s agreement of 24 June 2021. This is because it goes beyond what can be authorised by a building permit. 

Also read: Excavation of claimed Franco victims starts in Cuelgamuros

Appealing the ruling 

The Secretary of State for Democratic Memory announced that it would appeal against the Madrid Administrative Court Number 10 ruling regarding the building permit for the exhumation of victims. This same court has already imposed precautionary measures during the same proceedings. These were appealed and then overturned by the Madrid Supreme Court. 

Exhumations started in June 

Forensic experts started excavating the remains of victims of the Spanish Civil War from the former mausoleum of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in June. 

During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), bodies were brought from all parts of Spain to the ‘Valle de los Caídos’. They were then, often (re)buried anonymously. In total, tens of thousands of Civil War victims are buried there, some 15,000 of them anonymously. Meanwhile, Franco himself no longer lies there. His remains have been transferred to the family tomb in El Pardo. 

You may also like