The grandson of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco has said the family will accept the dictator’s remains if Spain’s government carries out its plan to remove his body from a controversial mausoleum after a battle over his resting place.
“Of course we will take care of my grandfather’s remains. We won’t leave it in the hands of the government,” Francis Franco told the newspaper La Razón in an interview on Saturday.
It came as Spain’s socialist administration published a decree outlining its plan to exhume the dictator, who died in 1975.
The new law states that the Valley of the Fallen basilica can only hold “the mortal remains of persons who died in the Spanish Civil War”, making Franco the odd one out at the mausoleum he had built and which contains the bodies of more than 33,000 war dead from both sides of the conflict.
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The decree, which will be voted on by Congress next month, gives the Franco family until September 15 to respond and state whether they are prepared to receive the dictator’s body.
The family opposes the decision to exhume Franco, but the dictator’s grandson said he now believed the government would carry out its plan “legally or otherwise”.
Mr Franco said challenging the government in court would be pointless, although he held out the possibility that the Benedictine monks who run the Valley of the Fallen could refuse to allow the exhumation.
“The inviolability of the basilica is beyond question. We have written a letter to [the monks] saying that we do not authorize the exhumation.”
The government believes it will win majority support for its plan in parliament and has also received assurances that Spanish Church authorities will not oppose the removal of the body from its place behind the main altar in the basilica.
Assuming the exhumation does finally take place, possibly in late October or November, Mr Franco said the family had yet to decide where his grandfather would be reburied.
He ruled out the family tomb near Madrid, which holds the remains of Franco’s wife, Carmen Polo, because of a lack of security, suggesting the family will try to bury the dictator in a more private place.