Spanish judge stops exhumation of victims buried in Valley of the Fallen

by Lorraine Williamson
victims buried

MADRID – A judge in Madrid, as a precaution, is holding back the work permit granted by the municipality of San Lorenzo de El Escorial to National Heritage to exhume victims buried in the Valley of the Fallen. 

Judge Eva María Bru Peral agrees to suspend the agreement. This authorised National Heritage to restore the crypts entrances of the Basilica of Santa Cruz del Valle de Los Caídos. This was for the purpose of exhuming the fallen from the Civil War and subsequent dictatorship. 

In April this year, the government, through National Heritage, applied to the Municipality of San Lorenzo de El Escorial for planning permission to begin excavation work and identify the victims buried in the crypts of the basilica and claimed by their family members. 

Rights to privacy of the deceased

The Association for Reconciliation and Historical Truth then requested a suspension. Furthermore, they argued the “fundamental right to privacy of the deceased and their families. And, moreover, the need to respect the sacred eternal peace. This would be violated if they consented to the requested obviously illegal works.” to be carried out”. 

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The association added to this argument. Because when it comes to carrying out works by a municipality or a public administration, involving the demolition of buildings, houses, or the like, the courts always agree to their suspension pending the final verdict. Therefore, if this turns out to be favourable for those who oppose the work, then there are no irreversible effects. 

In this case, the judge concludes that if the work were to be carried out on the crypts, “modifications would be made to an element integrated into a whole that is protected. Therefore, the judge considers it “reasonable to avoid irreparable actions” before the merits of the case have been examined”. 

“It is not based on human rights” 

Lawyer Eduardo Ranz, who represents the family of the Lapeña brothers – whose exhumation is pending execution – regrets the ruling. “It seems that there is a part of the population that does not take human rights, the rule of law, or the legal system as a starting point. The positive thing is that the rights of the victims always prevail and democracy always wins.” 

“Eternal rest of the dead must be respected” 

The secretary of the Association for Reconciliation and Historical Truth, Guillermo Rocafort, points out that the government, through National Heritage, shows that it does not know “the legislation for the protection of the heritage” and that the same applies to the catalogued heritages. “Electoral effect was sought. You cannot bring the war to the cemeteries because that is where people rest. And the eternal rest of the deceased must be respected,” he continued. 

 

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