Autopsy and its role in Franco’s dictatorship: a case of the last Republican mayor of the town Calera y Chozas (Toledo, Spain)



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Šarkić, Nataša and Saqqa Carazo, Miriam and Muñoz Ugarte, Lucia and Herrerín López, Jesús (2022) Autopsy and its role in Franco’s dictatorship: a case of the last Republican mayor of the town Calera y Chozas (Toledo, Spain). Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology . ISSN 1547-769X

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In the town of Calera y Chozas (Spain), fve mass graves containing the remains of 28 individuals were discovered during a 2012 excavation. The witnesses and historical evidence indicated that the body of the last Republican mayor of the town, Felipe Fernández Varela, who had died in September 1939, was located in the mass grave designated as no. 1. Within this particular grave, only two bodies were found. Anthropological analysis showed that the frst individual was signifcantly younger than 50 years, being the mayor’s age at the time of death, while the age of the second individual was closer to 50. This second individual had a fractured skull, with a depression on the left parietal bone, and there were unmistakable signs of autopsy, which consisted of cut marks on the frontal bone and the sternal extremity of the right clavicle. Further historical research revealed documents concerning the autopsy performed on this individual. Although, according to the report, the cause of death was a stroke — the consequence of atherosclerosis and alcoholism — no reference was made to the forceful impact to the skull or intracranial bleeding. Considering the size of the fracture on the skull and the fact that there were no signs of bone healing, we believe that this impact, and not the stroke, was the direct cause of the death of the last Republican mayor. The mayor’s case is a clear example of the role forensic medicine performed at the beginning of Franco’s dictatorship. The task was not only to conceal the crime but also to tarnish the victim’s name.

Item Type:Article
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CRUE-CSIC (Acuerdos Transformativos 2022)

Uncontrolled Keywords:Spanish Civil War, Exhumation, Physical anthropology, Mass grave, Identifcation, Head injuries, Autopsy
Subjects:Humanities > History > Modern history
ID Code:74081
Deposited On:04 Aug 2022 10:41
Last Modified:04 Aug 2022 10:43

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