Prosecutors in Spain have launched a bid to block an investigation into the killing of thousands of people during the Spanish Civil War.
Controversial judge Baltazar Garzon, famous for his pursuit of high-profile suspects from General Pinochet to ETA terrorists, has announced his decision to open the first formal probe into the 1936-1939 conflict.
Garzon accuses General Franco, who ruled Spain for almost 40 years until his death in 1975, together with his senior aides, of overseeing a systematic campaign to eliminate their left-wing opponents.
Garzon argues this amounts to a “crime against humanity” and cannot go unpunished.
However the National Court’s chief prosecutor says the wartime executions are covered by a 1977 amnesty for atrocities commited during and after the war.
Garzon’s move has sparked controversy in Spain, polarising the debate between those who believe the past should be left to lie and the families of the victims and those who disappeared.
The case will now go to a panel that will decide whether Garzon can proceed.