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They seek to identify the victims of Franco

They seek to identify the victims of Franco


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Finally. The struggle of the relatives of 128 victims of the civil war in Spain, most of them victims of the Franco regime, will begin to bear fruit starting this Monday, when a team of fifteen technicians will begin the exhumation tasks in the Cuelgamuros Valley, in the Community of Madrid.

A forensic laboratory has already been installed inside the basilica of what was called, until last year, Valley of the Fallen, so that the experts, who make up a multidisciplinary team made up of six forensic experts and four members of the Scientific Police, can work. as well as archaeologists, dentists and geneticists.

The objective of the agents will be to help identify the boxes in which the victims are buried, in the event that the registration numbers are not visible to the naked eye. The relatives were notified this morning of the beginning of the forensic work, according to the lawyer Eduardo Ranz.

Democratic Memory Law

Promoted by the Government to comply with the Democratic Memory Law, the forensic work will begin with the search for 18 bodies located in the crypt of the Holy Sepulcher chapel, on level 0.

Then the tasks will continue at levels 1, 2, 3 and 4 to locate another 59 bodies claimed by their relatives, including those of the brothers Manuel and Antonio Ramiro Lapeña, natives of Villarroya de la Sierra (Zaragoza), shot in 1936. by the Francoists. A 2016 court ruling issued his exhumation.

During a second phase, the search for the rest of the 128 bodies will be completed in other chapels of the basilica, according to sources from the Ministry of the Presidency, Relations with the Courts and Democratic Memory..

Exhumation in the chapel of the Holy Sepulcher

Most of the bodies claimed by their relatives are in the chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, where the work will be carried out from the bottom floor upwards, to gradually consolidate and shore up each of the five floors where there are burials.

These exhumation tasks take place “once all the legal, technical and security obstacles have been cleared”, the same sources say, making it clear that they will be carried out “in an act of dignity and maximum respect for those buried there”. Some relatives have come to wait twenty years for this day to come.

The Government resumed the exhumation work last December with a preliminary conditioning phase to enable access to the burials, secure the architectural structures and implement the necessary occupational safety protocols “for an intervention of this complexity”, as detailed by the Ministry in notification sent to next of kin.

This Monday begins the forensic intervention itself, which will consist of the search and location of the bodies, as far as technically possible, and the corresponding genetic analyzes that may lead to identifications.

“We can guarantee that the forensic experts who will be in charge of this task are prepared and have extensive proven experience in this type of investigation”, explains the Ministry. “The forensic intervention is going to be carried out using internationally recognized protocols and the reference laboratories are accredited in this field.”

Resignification of Cuelgamuros

The Cuelgamuros Valley, located in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, is home to the largest mass grave in Spain, with 33,833 remains of victims from both sides of the civil war. However, most of the 128 that will be exhumed during these works are victims of Francoism.

Their families have been involved in a legal mess for years after a historic ruling recognized in 2016 the right to recover the bodies of the Lapeña brothers, shot in 1936 and buried in Cuelgamuros.where until recently the dictator Francisco Franco and the founder of the Falange, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, remained buried.

The Democratic Memory Law also provides for the “resignification” of this enclave to publicize the “circumstances of its construction” and “the historical period in which it is inserted”, all with the aim of “strengthening constitutional and democratic values “.

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