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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 December 2006, 15:29 GMT
Spain debates Franco reparations
General Francisco Franco
General Franco came to power after victory in the civil war in 1939
The Spanish parliament has begun debating a law that would grant reparations to the victims of General Francisco Franco's dictatorship.

Thousands of people, including the families of former political prisoners, could get one-off payments or pensions.

Tens of thousands were imprisoned or killed during Franco's 36-year rule.

Spain is fiercely divided over the legislation, says the BBC's Danny Wood in Madrid. The conservative Popular Party wants the bill withdrawn.

As well as granting financial compensation to victims of the former dictator, the legislation also calls on local authorities to assist people searching for the missing bodies of family members executed by the regime.

An estimated 30,000 people murdered by the dictatorship still lie in mass graves around the country.

The bill calls for changes to another Franco legacy, his burial chamber: The Valley of the Fallen. Memorials at the site would be converted to reflect both sides who fought in the civil war.

But much of the law is symbolic, says our correspondent, and is likely to disappoint many people on the left and anger an equal number on the right.

Victims of the Franco regime or their relatives will be able to request a public declaration from the authorities recognising the injustice they suffered.

The government maintains that this legislation is not about rewriting history, or making people responsible for the crimes of the past.

But the opposition Popular Party wants the law withdrawn and argues that it reopens old wounds that have already healed.

Other opposition groups say the law does not go far enough.

The United Left Party wants sentences passed by the Franco regime - especially those condemning political prisoners - annulled.

Moderate Basque nationalists want those who committed crimes during the dictatorship named.

Our correspondent says Spaniards are as divided as their politicians - many regard a re-examination of the Franco years as very important, but there are grave doubts over whether passing legislation is the best way to go about it.

Franco came to power after victory in the civil war in 1939 and went on to rule Spain until his death in 1975.

Spain tackles civil war fallout
28 Jul 06 |  Europe
Civil War legacy divides Spain
18 Jul 06 |  Europe
Country profile: Spain
03 Jul 06 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Spain
03 Jul 06 |  Country profiles

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