Two siblings who never met each other and were lost to each other during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship have met for the first time, four decades on,
Genetic data confirmed that the man and woman were both the children of the same mother and father, although the identity of their parents is not yet known, a federal court revealed on April 21. Their names have not been disclosed to the press.
The discovery was made possible thanks to the state-supported search to identify the children of the victims of those who were “disappeared” by the military during the era of state terrorism.
The effort, backed by the Abuelas (Grandmothers) de Plaza de Mayo human rights organisation and others, has so far successfully recovered the identities of 132 individuals.
The siblings, he born in 1976 and she in 1977, were connected by Judge Alejo Ramos Padilla and met for the first time in the court which heard the case and details of the investigation.
The duo’s fraternal bond was confirmed by the National Bank of Genetic Data (Banco Nacional de Datos Genético, BNDG), which stores DNA records from relatives of the disappeared, the court in La Plata confirmed.
The investigation began in August 2016 after a complaint by the Abuelas. It was handled by the Unidad Especializada para Casos de Apropiación de Niños durante el Terrorismo de Estado (UFICANTE), an investigative team specialising in cases of child abduction during the dictatorship. They probed suspicions about the woman’s identity, which were sparked by a detail – that her birth had initially been registered by a member of the Buenos Aires provincial police.
The woman presented herself before in court in La Plata but DNA checks against the Genetic Data Bank came back negative, after which the case was provisionally closed. But last January, scientists at the DNA database discovered that a man who had presented himself before the National Commission for the Right to Identity (CONADI) was her brother, on both the mother's and father's side.
The siblings were later summoned to the court at different times by the judge, who broke the news. They both wanted to meet each other and the encounter took place on that same day in court. Both were registered as biological children of two different families, who have no link to each other.
The court suspects that they are both children of disappeared persons, but has not been able to confirm it. Judge Ramos Padilla said that both have been deprived of their right to identity.
The Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo humanitarian group are still searching for a suspected 300 more babies, whose identities were stolen at birth and falsified. They would be individuals aged around 45 today.
Ramos Padilla has issued three indictments against individuals to date, charging them with retention and concealment of a minor, alteration of civil status and falsification of a public document.
In his ruling, the judge said that the state has an obligation to determine responsibilities and "create the conditions for those who were victims of these events to know their history and overcome the process of concealment to which they were subjected.”