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Spanish Court: Dictator Francisco Franco's Remains Can Be Moved


Some other news now. The remains of Spain's former dictator are about to be moved. Francisco Franco prevailed in the Spanish Civil War and ruled for decades until his death. The fascist leader is interred at a national monument outside Madrid. Now Spain's Supreme Court says it will allow the Spanish government to move him. The socialist government had passed legislation to do so last year but faced challenges when Franco's grandchildren appealed. Here's Lucia Benavides.

LUCIA BENAVIDES, BYLINE: Franco died more than 40 years ago, but his tomb still draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. He's buried in a vast underground church in the hilly outskirts of Madrid, part of a larger monument called the Valley of the Fallen that includes the remains of 33,000 dead from both sides of the 1930s Spanish Civil War. The place is seen by many as an homage to fascism built under Franco's direction by thousands of his political prisoners over the span of almost 20 years. When the socialist government announced its plan to exhume the former dictator last September, the mausoleum drew many Franco supporters.

JOSE MARIA MARTIN: (Speaking Spanish).

BENAVIDES: "It's a historic site," says 74-year-old Jose Maria Martin (ph). He waves a huge Spanish flag as he tells me that if they come get Franco's remains, he'll be waiting there with a revolver. On Tuesday, after a yearlong legal fight with the Franco family, the Spanish government was given the green light.


CARMEN CALVO: (Speaking Spanish).

BENAVIDES: Acting Vice President Carmen Calvo told reporters she's satisfied with the Supreme Court decision and said her government had been working hard towards this objective. While Franco's grandchildren asked that the remains be moved to a basilica in downtown Madrid, the Supreme Court ruled he would be reburied in the cemetery in the outskirts of the capital alongside his wife. But historian Cadal Sole (ph) says Spain still has a lot of reckoning to do with the legacy of Franco's dictatorship.

CADAL SOLE: (Speaking Spanish).

BENAVIDES: "The removal of Franco's remains is an important symbolic gesture," she says. But it falls short. The monument still holds the tomb of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of Spain's fascist political party, as well as the mass grave of the unidentified thousands who fought against Franco's regime. For NPR News, I'm Lucia Benavides in Barcelona.

(SOUNDBITE OF PARALAX'S "BLUE ESSAY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.