A mass grave occupied by skeletons of men and women executed during Spain’s brutal civil war and the ensuing General Francisco Franco dictatorship has been uncovered as scientists take DNA swabs to identify them.
Work has begun on forensic analysis that may identify the dead, after three unmarked pits containing 185 bodies were found in the central Spanish city of Valladolid.
It is thought the city’s cemetery could contain up to 10 similar mass graves, with the victims among the estimated 100,000 who forcibly ‘disappeared’ during the 1936 and 1939 civil war, and Franco’s subsequent regime.
Authorities in Valladolid have paid 25,000 euros (£22,000) on employing a professional team to examine the site.
In 1977 Spain passed an amnesty law pardoning the crimes of the Franco regime, and the mass graves were left undisturbed. But there is a renewed interest in facing up to the country’s past.
Archaeologist Julio del Olmo said victims were executed following judgment in kangaroo courts, or slain in small groups and tipped into the pit by truck.
Some of those discovered in the pits were wearing decayed leather boots.