November 27, 2008

Spain's Mass Graves Closed for Now

A Spanish judge who pledged to investigate the deaths of thousands during the Spain Civil War and the Franco regime conceded mass grave exhumation to regional courts after pressure from Spanish conservatives.

The Times of London reports that Judge Baltasar Garzon ordered the exhumation of 25 mass graves across Spain thought to hold over 114,000 people who disappeared throughout General Franco’s 36-year dictatorship.

In addition to the remains of Spain’s most famous poet, Garzon hoped to identify the bodies of union members and Franco’s left-leaning opponents at the behest of family members.

Garzon alleged that tens of thousands of people were killed on orders from 44 high-ranking regime leaders and Franco himself, accusing them of crimes against humanity

Opposition to Garzon’s move came from members of the conservative Popular Party, the Catholic Church, and the public prosecutor’s office, which said a federal investigation would violate a 1977 national amnesty agreement.

Other objectors stated the prosecution of 70-year-old crimes was a needless reopening of past scars. However, some European news sources wonder whether Spain is avoiding facing its past.

According to the public prosecutor, the investigation should be “up to the courts of each region where such atrocities were committed.”

However, some regions are expected to suspend the investigation indefinitely.

–Lauren Riggs, Newsdesk.org

Sources:

“Judge Baltasar Garzon quits probe into fate of Franco ‘disappeared'”
The Times of London, November 19, 2008

“Garzon gives up”
Courrier International, November 19, 2008

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