The final resting place of almost 34,000 victims of the Spanish Civil War may shortly be not so final. On Monday scientific and construction experts entered the huge and controversial Valle de los Caídos mausoleum in the mountains near Madrid. The team are there on judges' orders to assess the state of the burial chambers in the cavernous site where bodies from both the Republican and Nationalist sides of the 1936-1939 war are buried. They want to find out how easy it is to identify four individual victims from the unmarked bodies so they can be returned to their families.
It is the first time that relatives of people buried there have had judicial success in their campaign to identify individual remains. Almost all the bodies were taken there against families' will under the orders of dictator General Franco as he built his war monument. Franco himself is buried there. If it proves physically possible to pinpoint individual bodies, a flood of similar legal requests is expected to follow.