Stolen babies saga takes new twist

by jeeg 20. July 2011 01:29

TESTS ON the DNA of two children adopted by the owner of Argentina’s most powerful media conglomerate show they are not among an estimated 500 babies stolen from political detainees “disappeared” by the former military dictatorship, their lawyer claimed at the weekend.

The announcement is the latest twist in a long-running dispute over the identity of Marcela and Felipe Noble Herrera, who were adopted in 1976 by Ernestina Herrera de Noble, owner of the Clarín Group which controls the country’s biggest-selling newspaper and a network of television and radio stations.

Human-rights groups have long believed Noble received the children from contacts in the military dictatorship after their birth in secret detention centres to disappeared women who were later murdered.

Of an estimated 500 such babies, 103 have been identified since the return of democracy in 1983. The government has created a DNA database to help resolve other cases in what is the most traumatic legacy of the country’s dirty war, when the military murdered more than 10,000 people in its campaign against left-wing opponents.

Human rights campaigners have waged a high-profile decade-long campaign to have the two Noble children take DNA tests to see if they were stolen babies.

The case become highly politicised in 2008 when Argentinian president Cristina Kirchner fell out with the Clarín Group. Since then both Kirchner and her husband and predecessor, Néstor Kirchner, used the refusal by the Nobles to submit to DNA tests to attack the Clarín Group’s dominance of the state’s media.

Now in their 30s, Marcela and Felipe say they believe their mother that their adoption was legal and have called demands that they submit to DNA analysis an invasion of privacy. They say they are the victims of “permanent harassment by the national government”.

If it is discovered the two were illegally adopted, Nobel, now 86, could face prosecution.

They finally provided genetic material for testing after a June 2nd court ruling that they would be forced to do so if they refused to provide samples voluntarily.

The claim by the Nobles’ lawyer that DNA analysis had failed to link them to the families of disappeared women has set off a storm of criticism of the government by the media and opposition politicians.

In a statement, the association representing Argentinian newspapers, Adepa, said the negative results “suggest that the government have used the human-rights issue to pressure part of the media”.

Opposition leader Elisa Carrió said Kirchner should apologise to the Herrera children. “The attitude of the government and some human rights groups was identical to the military dictatorship,” she said. “The damage caused to democracy, to human rights and to these two youngsters is irreparable.”

Kirchner has not publicly reacted to the latest developments but her cabinet chief, Aníbal Fernández, denied opposition claims that the government had “persecuted” the two Herrera children and warned that their DNA still had to be tested against the entire national database.

The fallout has led to unprecedented criticism of the usually revered Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo for its leading role in pushing the case. The group campaigns to identify members’ grandchildren who were stolen by the military.

But the organisation’s president said the negative results might be due to a lack of sufficient DNA evidence in the national database, which could require further samples from the families of the disappeared. “We are still hopeful but we insist that what we want to get at is the truth, whatever it is,” Estela de Carlotto told the Página/12 newspaper.

Irish Times

 

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