Cranfield researchers are working with colleagues from the University of Madrid (UCM) and Mapus de Memoria (Maps of Memory) on site in the province of Ciudad Real.
The press release stated that similar efforts across the country have recovered more than 7,000 victims of the Spanish Civil War since 2000.
Nicholas Marquez-Grant, a senior lecturer in forensic anthropology at the Cranfield Forensic Institute, told CNN on Tuesday that experts are looking for a total of 26 people, including carpenters, teachers and farmers.
He said that the researchers know whose remains are in the cemetery because they are registered as being buried there, but their deaths are listed as natural rather than hanging.
Marquez-Grant said they had already recovered several corpses with gunshot wounds to the head, pieces of clothing and other personal effects, such as buttons, a pencil and a fountain pen, which said the victims were local Was killed by right-wing partisans. Instead of Francoist soldiers.
Family members of the victims have been contacted and it is hoped that DNA analysis can match them and allow proper burial of the remains, although the DNA match is not definitive, Marquez-Grant said.
Some family members have visited the cemetery, where researchers hung pictures of the victims.
“It’s quite powerful,” said Marquez-Grant, who said two elderly sisters visited the site. His father was killed in the cemetery when he was a young child.
Maria Benito Sanchez, director of the scientific team for the project from the School of Legal Medicine at UCM, added in a press release: “As forensic anthropology professionals we have the responsibility to put our science in the service of relatives who have been searching for a long time. To their loved ones. “
The team will excavate the site by the beginning of June, then do anthropological and DNA analysis by the end of the year to identify the remains.
Maps of Memory director George Moreno said 21 families of the victims have so far been identified with the excavation.
Almagro Cemetery is the largest mass grave ever opened in the province, but there are other large graves to contain the remains of hundreds of people.
Franco emerged victorious from Spain’s 1938–38 civil war and ruled the country until his death in 1975. Thousands were hanged by their nationalist regime during and after the Civil War.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has pledged to support efforts to evacuate and identify the victims of the civil war. Marquez-Grant said government officials have visited the site in Almagro.
“We are now asked to open more mass graves in the region,” said Marquez-Grant, who praised the success of a model that includes close collaboration between social anthropologists, forensic anthropologists, forensic archaeologists and geneticists.
Some people in Spain complain that the process has taken too long and are saddened by the fact that many of the relatives of victims of the Civil War have died before they can get their remains, but Marquez-Grant’s It is said that it will not be possible to identify the victims. 1970s or 1980s. “It has come at the right time because we have the science to do it,” he said.