Argentina takes DNA samples to track missing kids

AP News
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Posted: Dec 29, 2009 5:14 PM

The adopted son and daughter of a prominent Argentine businesswoman gave DNA samples Tuesday to help determine whether their biological parents were political prisoners killed during the country's "dirty war," the family's lawyer said.

Marcela and Felipe Noble Herrera gave their samples at the Legal Medical Department, a federal forensics agency, said their lawyer, Jorge Anzorreguy.

A court order allowed the two to provide the DNA there instead of at the state-run National Bank of Genetic Data, which keeps DNA samples of families of the disappeared to be compared to samples taken from the alleged children of the disappeared.

Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a civic group trying to locate 500 children who were born to prisoners or abducted along with their parents during the 1976-1983 dictatorship, has demanded that the DNA be collected at the data bank.

But Marcela and Felipe Noble, and other alleged children of the disappeared, have preferred running the tests at other labs.

The Grandmothers "will not consent to this illegal test," group founder Estela de Carlotto told a news conference Tuesday. "Legal steps will be taken to guarantee that once and for all an independent and effective investigation is done."

Neither Marcela nor Felipe Noble commented publicly Tuesday.

Ernestina Herrera de Noble, the director of Grupo Clarin, Argentina's dominant media group, adopted Marcela and Felipe in 1976. The Grandmothers group believes the two children were taken from women political prisoners who gave birth in custody.

Children of the "disappeared" were often given to military or police families considered loyal to the military government. Some have grown up not even knowing they were adopted until activists or judges announced efforts to obtain their DNA.

Last month, the Argentine Congress backed a proposal from the Grandmothers and authorized the forced extraction of DNA from adults who may be the children of political prisoners _ even when they don't want to know.

Human rights activists applauded the law, saying they hoped it would help find about 400 people stolen as babies, many from women who were kidnapped and gave birth inside clandestine torture centers. Thousands of leftists disappeared in what became known as the "dirty war" against political dissent.

Others see it as an unacceptable government invasion of privacy, and at least one person _ Elisa Carrio, a leading political rival of President Cristina Fernandez _ has suggested the move specifically targeted Herrera de Noble, who also is a Fernandez opponent.