Known as the “Law on Democratic Memory”, the legislation makes the state responsible for finding and identifying the remains rather than leaving the task to relatives.
Campaigners say the remains of more than 100,000 people are in unmarked graves across Spain, a figure which Amnesty International says is only exceeded by Cambodia.
Franco’s Nationalists won the 1936-1939 civil war and honoured their own dead but left their opponents in unmarked graves.
Many more people went missing or were killed under the dictatorship, which ended with Franco’s death in 1975.
The bill is expected to be passed by parliament despite hostility from the main right-wing opposition, which says the left is needlessly opening old wounds and has promised to repeal the law if reelected.
“Today Spain is settling a historic debt with its past. We have passed the democratic memory law that lets us move towards recognising the victims of the civil war and the dictatorship,” tweeted Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
“It is a much-needed law that lets us become a better country.”
The passage of time and the lack of records about the executions has made both finding and identifying victims difficult.
The bill sets aside public money to search for the missing, map the mass graves and create a DNA database to help identify the remains.
It also annuls the convictions of opponents of the Franco regime and provides for the appointment of a prosecutor to probe human rights abuses during the civil war and dictatorship.
Until now, all such moves have been prevented by a 1977 amnesty law, which was seen as essential to avoid score-settling in the fledgling democracy.
Under a 2007 law, the state simply offered support to help families trace and exhume relatives buried in unmarked graves.
But Sanchez’s government has sought to bring Spain in line with other European countries that have gone through dictatorships.
“With this law, we are making Spain… a more dignified country,” said Democratic Memory Minister Felix Bolanos.
He added that the law took care of the victims and did not forget those who died fighting a dictatorship.
Spain has been criticised for shortcomings in its efforts to address the legacy of the civil war and the dictatorship.
The UN Human Rights Council said leaving victims’ relatives to search for their loved ones highlighted “the indifference of state institutions”.
Since coming to power in 2018, Sanchez has made several moves to deal with Franco’s legacy.
In October 2019, he had Franco’s remains transferred from a vast basilica near Madrid to a small family plot.
Nadine Lott told ex-partner who later killed her not to ‘threaten’ her, court hears
Nadine Lott told her former partner not to “threaten” her two weeks before he killed her, the Central Criminal Court has heard.
The jury in the trial of Daniel Murtagh was given transcripts on Tuesday of WhatsApp messages between the accused and his ex-girlfriend in the days and weeks leading up to her death.
In them, the accused asks her if she is “seeing someone from Dublin”. In reply, Ms Lott tells him she is not seeing anyone. Mr Murtagh asks her if there was a “Dublin lad” in her “place” and she tells him to “leave it out”.
She tells him that “nothing is ever going to happen between us again, I want to make that clear.”
In another text from December 5th the accused said: “Nadine I worry about ye, not in love, just don’t slip”.
She replied: “Don’t threaten me either”.
Evidence has previously been given that Mr Murtagh told a motorist that he had “killed my wife because she was with my friend”, just hours after he assaulted her.
John Begley testified last week that he saw a car in a ditch as he was travelling over Bookies Bridge in Laragh on the morning of December 14th and then came across the accused man standing at the side of the road.
“Daniel said to me ‘you don’t know what I’ve done”. I said what did you do. He said ‘I killed my wife’. I didn’t think anything of it. He said it a second time and said he hoped she was not dead. He said ‘she was with my friend’,” said Mr Begley.
Mr Murtagh (34), of Melrose Grove, Bawnogue, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of his 30-year-old ex-partner Ms Lott at her apartment in St Mary’s Court, Arklow, Co Wicklow on December 17th, 2019.
The jury has heard that Ms Lott suffered “severe blunt force trauma” and stab injuries at the hands of her former partner “in a sustained and violent attack” in her Arklow home.
They have heard evidence that the injuries to Ms Lott were so serious that she never regained consciousness and died three days later in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.
An intensive care nurse at the hospital has told the jury that Ms Lott was “completely unrecognisable” and that she had never seen anybody so badly injured. A paramedic who attended to Ms Lott at her home told the jury that the call will “haunt” him for the rest of his career and was one of the most “horrendous scenes” he had ever walked into. The garda who telephoned ambulance control informed them that Ms Lott had been “beaten to a pulp”.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Michael MacGrath and a jury of seven men and five women.
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