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Madrid (CNN) - The remains of the dictator Francisco Franco can be exhumed, the Supreme Court of Spain ruled on Tuesday, solving a problem that has divided opinion for decades.
The long-awaited decision gives the government a green light to remove Franco's remains from the Valley of the Fallen, just outside Madrid.
Franco was buried in the mausoleum - which was partially built by political prisoners of his regime and in which a mass grave of victims of the Spanish Civil War is located - shortly after his death in 1975.
Since then it has become an attraction for tourists and supporters of the extreme right who congregate on the anniversary of Franco's death on November 20.
The court also rejected the request made by the Franco family to bury the body of the dictator in the Cathedral of La Almudena, in the center of Madrid.
His remains, therefore, will be taken to the Mingorrubio cemetery (in El Pardo, north of Madrid) where the dictator's wife is buried.
The exhumation was one of the promises of the acting government president, Pedro Sánchez, when he came to power last year. Royal decree was made in August 2018 by the ruling Socialist Party, but Franco's family appealed the decision in court.
Franco ruled Spain from the late 1930s until his death. The nationalist regime carried out thousands of executions during the Spanish Civil War and in the following years.
After World War II, he was seen by many as the last surviving fascist dictator and was ostracized by the United Nations. His regime was partially rehabilitated during the Cold War due to Franco's firm anti-communist ideology.
In 2007, the Spanish government passed the Historical Memory Law, which formally condemns the Franco regime and prohibits political events in the Valley of the Fallen. It also recognizes the victims of the civil war and the Franco State and promises help to those victims and their descendants.