Fri, May 30, 2008 - Page 7 News List

DNA tests identify 90th ‘stolen’ child in Argentina


DNA tests have established the identity of an Argentine woman taken from her parents during the country’s military dictatorship — the 90th such child identified by a group of grandmothers searching for their missing relatives.

Laura Ruiz Dameri, now 27, had refused to cooperate, but a federal judge ordered inspectors to gather DNA samples from her belongings, a statement by the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo human rights group said on Wednesday.

A national DNA databank maintained by the grandmothers on Tuesday confirmed a 99.99 percent match between Dameri’s DNA and that collected from family members of Orlando Ruiz and Silvia Dameri, political dissidents who disappeared during Argentina’s 1976 to 1983 dictatorship.

The couple was kidnapped in 1980 along with their two older children, when Silvia Dameri was five-months pregnant.

She gave birth to Laura Dameri in August at the Navy Mechanics School, one of the regime’s largest secret detention centers, the grandmothers’ group said in a news release.

Silvia Dameri and her children were transferred to another secret detention center outside Buenos Aires months later, where she disappeared.

The two older children were abandoned at hospitals in different parts of the country in December 1980, with signs around their necks saying “Marcelo” and “Victoria.”

Both were adopted by local families and found by the grandmothers’ group in 1990 and 2000. They agreed to DNA testing and set out to find their sister, the group said.

“For a while now we grandmothers have suspected that Laura was the sister that Marcelo and Maria de las Victorias were searching for,” the grandmothers’ statement read.

“The three children were taken to different parts of the country deliberately, to keep the family from uniting at some point. But the truth comes to light sooner or later,” the statement said.

Because her two siblings had been abandoned, their adoptions were legal. But a federal judge has ordered Laura Dameri’s adoptive father, former naval officer Antonio Azic, 67, detained.

Government figures say nearly 13,000 Argentines disappeared during the so-called dirty war, although human rights groups put the toll at 30,000.

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