This content is not available in your region

Franco victims' remains exhumed from mass grave

Access to the comments Comments
By Mark Armstrong
Franco victims' remains exhumed from mass grave

In Spain, the remains of dozens of people executed by dictator General Franco's regime have been exhumed from a mass grave in the town of Paterna near Valencia. The republican supporters were shot by firing squad after the civil war ended in 1939.

Relatives of the victims gathered at the site. Among the victims of the firing squad were members of Carman Lopez's family.

"Standing here at the edge of the grave, said Carmen. "I was very happy because I thought that I was going to recover the body of my grandfather. But I was also very sad because my father has died, my grandmother has died and the young girl who was only seven have all died without seeing that justice can be done in this country."

Military and civil guard firing squads shot dead at least 2,238 prisoners here according to historians' research and the cemetery's records. The remains are believed to have been thrown into 70 different mass graves and covered in the quicklime to seal off the site.

Carmen Gomez leads an association of 42 relatives who pushed for the opening of graveyard number 112, ultimately paid for by a grant last year from the provincial government of Valencia.

Eight decades on, a new centre-left government's move to exhume Franco from a controversial shrine also raised attention over an unresolved issue linked to his regime - the hundreds of anonymous mass graves that testify to the dictatorship's brutality.

The group explained that judges tend to dismiss the cases because crimes over 20 years old fall under a 1977 amnesty law that was key in ensuring the country's peaceful transition to democracy, by protecting officials and members of Franco's security forces from future prosecution.