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Thursday, 25 November, 1999, 20:13 GMT
Argentina identifies 124 'disappeared'
military Thousands disappeared under the 1976-83 military regime

The remains of 124 people who disappeared after being arrested during Argentina's "dirty war" have been identified through an investigation into police files.

Most of the dead had been buried in mass graves in Buenos Aires province. During an investigation into their identities, forensic anthropologists found a batch of microfilm in the province's security ministry containing information on the disappeared.

It had survived the mass destruction of documents by provincial police in the 1980s.

The province's Security Minister, Carlos Soria, said the anthropologists compared the microfilm with fingerprints on the bodies.

"We were able to identify many disappeared persons, who will now have a first and last name," he said.

Thousands disappeared

According to a government commission appointed in 1984, about 9,800 people were listed as "disappeared" after being arrested during the military regime that ruled from 1976 to 1983.

Many of those abducted were accused of being leftist sympathisers - they were sent to torture centres and then murdered.

Human rights organisations have said the actual number of victims is higher than 30,000.

Mr Soria said that the list of names would be made public after family members had received notification of the findings.

Top officials charged

President Menem President Menem pardoned leaders of the regime
Enriqueta Maroni of the human rights group, Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, said: "Now we know where our children lay, what happened to them.

"Their identification is proof of the atrocities committed by the dictatorship."

Many of the regime's top leaders were tried and sent to prison, but were pardoned by President Carlos Menem after he came to power in 1989.

Investigations are continuing into charges that officials stole babies born in detention camps, a crime not covered by the pardon.

They are on a list of 98 Argentine citizens charged with human rights abuses by Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon, who is also pursuing the extradition of the former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet.

Argentina's president-elect, Fernando de la Rua, has said that local courts should decide the officials' fate.

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See also:
04 Nov 99 |  World
Spanish prosecutors appeal 'dirty war' warrants
19 Aug 98 |  Top features
The Living Disappeared
24 Apr 99 |  Americas
Army chief probed over babies scandal
03 Nov 99 |  Americas
Argentina spurns 'dirty war' warrants

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