The Valley of Cuelgamuros, formerly called Valley of the Fallen, on a rainy day in October 2022.Santi Burgos
The Prosecutor's Office of the National Court has opposed paralyzing the exhumation work that, since last June, has been taking place in the Cuelgamuros Valley, the name acquired by the Valley of the Fallen in 2022. The Public Ministry thus responds to the attempt of the Association for the Defense of the Valley of the Fallen to stop these works, with which it is intended to recover the remains claimed by relatives of more than a hundred victims of the Civil War; the majority, reprisals of the Franco dictatorship. This association has launched an offensive in the courts which, so far, has not been successful.
Forensics enter this Monday for the first time in the crypts of Cuelgamuros to exhume 128 victims claimed by their families
In a brief presented at the National Court, the Prosecutor's Office stresses that the suspension of the exhumations "would generate in itself an evident prejudice to the right of the victims to truth and reparation"; "And, in particular, to the fulfillment of the duty of the Public Administration to proceed with the location, exhumation and identification of the disappeared persons." Article 16 of the Democratic Memory Law, which came into force in October of last year, establishes that "it corresponds to the General Administration of the State to search for persons who disappeared during the war and the dictatorship."
Last June, the Association for the Defense of the Valley of the Fallen filed a contentious-administrative appeal to try to stop the exhumation work, which has already allowed to locate at least 12 victims – "I have fulfilled as a son. I'm going to hug my father's remains," Fausto Canales, almost 90, said emotionally after hearing the news. Faced with this onslaught, the Prosecutor's Office opposed in July the measures requested by the anti-memorialist collective. And the Central Court of Administrative Litigation number 5 of the National Court dismissed the group's claims.
However, the association returned to the charge and filed a new appeal against the court's decision, which the Public Prosecutor's Office has again opposed. This group, which refers to the Executive as "social communist government", accuses La Moncloa of "desecrating the cadaveric remains of the fallen buried" in the Cuelgamuros Valley, the work of Francisco Franco and built largely with slave labor of reprisals of the dictatorship, and defends that "thousands of families, who having perfectly accredited the presence of the remains of their ancestors in the ossuaries of the Basilica, see their right to rest in peace violated."
The Prosecutor's Office of the National Court, in coordination with the Specialized Unit on Human Rights and Democratic Memory of the Attorney General's Office, rejects this thesis outright and has raised in the National Court that the lawsuit should be inadmissible, due to the "lack of legitimacy" of the group and "that the act appealed is not contestable".
Attempts to stop the exhumations have been manifold. In March, the Supreme Court already gave the green light to the work by rejecting an appeal filed by the Francisco Franco Foundation to prevent the extraction of mortal remains. PP and Vox have also expressed their intentions to repeal the law of Historical Memory if they reach the Government.
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