Civil war mass grave unearthed in Spain
“It is estimated that there could be about 600 bodies,” said Edurne Rubio of the Forum for Memory, one of several associations working to shed light on atrocities during the 1936-1939 civil war and the four-decade dictatorship that followed.
If confirmed, it would be the second-biggest Franco-era mass grave found in Spain, after one containing 2,840 bodies which was uncovered in the southern province of Malaga in 2008.
Mr Rubio says the bodies are believed to be of people executed during the civil war.
“Searches have been carried out and bodies have been discovered at a shallow depth of 30 or 40 centimetres,” he said, adding that metal detectors had also revealed pieces of ammunition.
In May, the government published for the first time a map with the location of more than 2,000 mass graves of victims of the war, which pitted Franco’s right-wing forces against an elected left-wing government, and of his ensuing dictatorship.
While Franco’s regime honoured its own dead, it left its opponents buried in unmarked graves scattered across the country.
Figures for the number of people killed in the war and dictatorship vary widely and the historical record of the war remains a divisive issue.
A Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzon, estimated 114,000 people were killed overall in the war and dictatorship.
He was suspended by Spain’s Supreme Court over his inquiry and denounced by far-right groups who accused him of exceeding his authority.
British historian Paul Preston has estimated in a book that 200,000 Spaniards were killed in the war away from the front line, plus 300,000 in battle and thousands more later under the dictatorship.