Francisco Franco ‘s remains of Spanish dictator are being moved from a vast mausoleum to a low-key grave, 44 years after his elaborate funeral.
Thursday’s long-awaited relocation fulfils a key pledge of the socialist government, which said Spain should not continue to glorify a fascist who ruled the country for nearly four decades.
His family unsuccessfully challenged the reburial in the courts.
The Franco era continues to haunt Spain, now a robust democracy.
Family members are present to witness the ceremony at the Valley of the Fallen, a national monument and basilica carved into a mountain about 50km (30 miles) from Madrid that was built in the Franco era.
The remains will be moved by helicopter.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the exhumation was “a great victory for dignity, memory, justice and reparation – and thus for Spanish democracy”.
Only a few people are being allowed to attend the event, which is taking place under high security. They include the justice minister, an expert in forensics, a priest and 22 descendants of Francisco Franco. Media are excluded but more than 200 journalists are near the site.
As part of the ceremony, a crane will need to lift a concrete slab weighing 1,500kg that covers the coffin. In total, the exhumation and re-burial will cost about €63,000 (£54,000; $70,000).
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