Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Exactly a month after the Spanish Supreme Court approved the project, workers began exhuming the body of former dictator Francisco Franco on Thursday to be reinterred at another location.
Crews began digging at Franco's grave in the "Valley of the Fallen" in San Lorenzo de El Escorial for transport to the Mingorrubio-El Pardo municipal cemetery. Crews had to hoist a 1.5-metric ton slab that covered Franco's tomb to reach his coffin.
Franco's remains have been in the Valley of the Fallen since his death in 1975. The Spanish government is making the move because it says having his body next to a memorial for 34,000 who died in the Spanish Civil War glorifies Franco's brutal dictatorship.
The government said Franco needed to be moved so his remains would no longer "remain in a public mausoleum that exalts his figure." The move will "symbolically close the circle of Spanish democracy," officials said.
Descendants of Franco opposed the move but were overruled by the high court on Sept. 24.
There will be a private family service at the new location, where Franco's wife, Carmen Polo, was buried in 1988.