Argentine media heirs forced to undergo DNA testing to see if they were abducted as babies

By Maira Magro

A lawsuit to determine whether the owner of Argentina's Clarín press group, Ernestina Herrera de Noble, adopted two children 34 years ago from parents who disappeared during the military dictatorship took a crucial step Monday (June 7). Scientists began DNA tests on clothes surrendered by Marcela and Felipe Noble Herrera to see who their birth parents are, BBC reports. The Christian Science Monitor and London's Independent also cover the story.

Human rights organizations suspect that Marcela and Felipe, adopted in 1976 by the owners of Clarín, are children of parents who disappeared during the military regime (1976-1983). It is estimated that approximately 500 children of political prisoners were kidnapped and turned over to military officers or sympathizers of the regime. The case involving the Noble family was initiated by the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, on behalf of two families who believe they are related to the Noble siblings. The grandmothers have already helped 101 young people to find their biological families.

Clarín newspaper reported that police raided the Noble family's house last Friday, gathering the brother and sister's personal belongings, such as underwear and other clothing for use in DNA tests. The children had refused to furnish material for genetic tests. They "have argued that the search for the truth about their biological mother amounts to an invasion of their privacy and they have attempted to halt it," the Independent says. BBC adds, "Marcela and Felipe say the demand for DNA tests is part of a politically motivated campaign against their adoptive mother, who has clashed with the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner."

But a law passed in November 2009 made genetic testing mandatory in cases of children suspected of being kidnapped during the dictatorship and allows the Justice system to obtain evidence for itself, BBC Mundo explains.

Questions about the legality of the adoption process of the owners of Clarín began in 2001. Ernestina Herrera was briefly arrested in 2002, accused of irregularities in the adoption. She accuses the organizations involved of wanting to damage the Clarín group.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.