ALFACAR, Spain (AP) — A search for unmarked Spanish Civil War graves has begun in southern Spain and officials hope it may reveal the burial site of acclaimed poet Federico Garcia Lorca, who's believed to have been executed and buried in the area.
Andalusia's regional government said Wednesday work had begun to clear 300 square meters (3,230 square feet) of a forest outside the village of Alfacar to bring it back to pre-war levels. Archeologists will then begin soundings to try to detect bone remains. If any are detected, a court will decide the next step.
The project, expected to last 10 days, aims to discover any war victims' remains, not just Lorca's. A two-month dig in a nearby area in 2009 yielded no results.
Lorca, one of Spain's most renowned 20th-century poets, was among tens of thousands of civilians executed by militias loyal to late dictator Gen. Francisco Franco and buried in unmarked mass graves during and after the 1936-39 Civil War.
The Franco regime carried out a thorough accounting of killings of its supporters and gave them proper burials but those on the other end of the violence have been battling for years to get the same treatment.
"In any civilized country, you cannot leave citizens buried in unidentified places as if they were scum," said Javier Navarro, one of the project's archeologists.
The area being dug up now had been filled in amid plans for a soccer field in 1998. The Lorca family protested, saying they believed the poet might be among those buried there.
Lorca, 38, was shot along with three others on Aug. 18, 1936.
He is best known for tragedies such as "Blood Wedding" and his poetry collections "Poet in New York and "Gypsy Ballads." Lorca's work draws on universal themes like love, death, passion, cruelty and injustice.