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Court orders Franco’s family to return summer mansion

A court in Galicia has ordered the family of dictator Francisco Franco to hand over the keys to a mansion that it rules was illegally ‘purchased’ decades ago.

The Pazo de Meirás estate in Galicia was used by the late dictator as a summer residence, and currently belongs to six of his grandchildren.

However, the court in the Galician city of A Coruña has ordered them to turn it over to state ownership, upholding a Spanish government complaint filed last year that claimed the 1941 sale of the property was ‘fraudulent’.

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The family now has 20 days to appeal the ruling, and has always claimed the historic estate, which was built between 1893 and 1907, was private property.

Pazo de Meirás. (@TSXGalicia / Twitter)

Pazo de Meirás was acquired by a Francoist association during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and then it was later signed over to the dictator.

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However, the Galician court ruled that the donation in 1938 and subsequent sale in 1941 was ‘null and void’, since it was transferred to ‘the head of state and not to Francisco Franco personally’.

It also found that the sale was little more than a ‘pretence’ given that ‘Franco did not pay anything’ for it.

It has ordered Franco’s family ‘to immediately hand over the property without being compensated for the expenses they claim to have incurred for its maintenance’.

‘On accepting that the country estate belongs to the state, the judge also declared null and void the transfer of the property to Franco’s heirs’ following his death in 1975, a court statement said.

In 2018, Galicia’s regional government declared the 19th-century mansion to be of ‘historic and cultural value’, ordering the family to open it up to the public. But the family opposed the move, arguing it was private property.

The Franco family last year failed to stop the dictator’s exhumation from a grand mausoleum near Madrid, at the Valley of the Fallen. His remains were transferred to a family plot in El Pardo cemetery, on the outskirts of Madrid.

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