Temporalmente, la Audiencia Nacional detiene las exhumaciones en el Valle de Cuelgamuros

The Central Court of Contentious-Administrative Number 11 of the National Court has decided to temporarily suspend the exhumations in the Valley of Cuelgamuros, where a team of forensic experts has been working since June 11 to try to identify the remains of 160 victims claimed by their families. The court order, dated December 14, gives three working days to the National Heritage to present allegations; once heard, the lifting, maintenance, or modification of the precautionary measure will be decided. Sources from the Ministry of Territorial Policy and Democratic Memory indicate that they plan to submit these allegations on Tuesday and reaffirm their commitment to the location of the bodies. The precautionary measure does not, in any case, stop the genetic identification work of the samples already collected inside the mausoleum. Precisely this Tuesday, the Secretary of State for Democratic Memory has summoned relatives of the victims to inform them of the progress in the work. So far, according to government sources confirmed to EL PAÍS, they have sent 200 samples taken from the inside of the crypts to compare them with the DNA samples of their relatives.
The court has admitted the appeal filed by the granddaughter of a woman buried in the Valley of Cuelgamuros who claims that forensic work violates her right to religious freedom and her “decent burial”. Her grandmother, according to the Christian Lawyers association, which advises her legally, “was killed in Madrid in 1936.” In the crypts of the monument built by dictator Francisco Franco to immortalize his victory in the Civil War, at least 33,847 victims are buried, equivalent to the city of Teruel, and some of the boxes where they were buried have deteriorated with moisture and the passage of time. One of the government’s purposes, in addition to trying to identify and return the claimed remains to their families, is to tidy up the inside of the crypts. The multidisciplinary team of technicians working in the mausoleum since June locates the boxes where it is believed that the remains claimed by their families were buried and extracts samples for genetic identification. Only the claimed corpses will leave the Valley once their identity is verified through DNA tests.
So far, the remains of ten victims whose bodies had been transferred to the Valley of Cuelgamuros from mass graves without the consent of their families have been identified. The Secretary of State for Democratic Memory plans to meet with relatives of other located and pending genetic identification victims this Tuesday, including several groups from six municipalities in Zaragoza and a town in Catalonia. In September 2021, at the age of 97, Manuel Lapeña passed away, who in 2016 had obtained a favorable sentence to try to recover the remains of his father and uncle in one of the crypts of the mausoleum. As happened with the exhumation of the dictator Francisco Franco’s tomb in October 2019, a flood of resources from pro-Franco and anti-memorialist groups has tried to halt this process of recovering remains since it began last June. The return of the corpses to their families is part of the process of re-signifying the Valley contemplated in the law of democratic memory, which came into effect in October 2022. Last April, the remains of the founder of the Falange, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, which were located in a prominent place in the mausoleum, next to the high altar, were also transferred.

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