The Spanish cabinet has approved a long held pledge to exhume the remains of victims of the Civil War with the green light to provide special funding to begin the process.
The Valley of the Fallen monument and basilica holds the resting places of around 33,000 victims of the Spanish Civil War ( 1936-1939).
The body of General Franco was exhumed from there on the orders of the PSOE Socialist led coalition government of Pedro Sanchez and moved to a family plot in El Pardo on the outskirts of Madrid in 2019.
With the removal of Franco from the basilica, the government has sought to use the site as a centre for “national reconciliation.”
A sum of €665,000 has been initially earmarked for the exhumations to begin.
The majority of the bodies buried there were Republican opponents who were moved there from cemeteries and mass graves without their families being informed.
The Fascist leader of the Falange, Antonio Primo de Rivera whose remains were interred next to that of Franco still remain.
The exact number of deaths from the Civil War is disputed with some historians believing up to 1 million people lost their lives and aftermath
In 2008 the Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzón, opened a judicial investigation into the executions and disappearances of 114,266 people between 1936 and 1951.