48 Missing Detainees Wrongly Identified

“Courtyard 29” is a communal grave place, located in the General Cemetery (ES) of the capital, Santiago. In 1991, 124 missing detainees from the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, were found and 96 were identified. After 20 years, 96 families had the chance to properly bury their relatives.

Last week, 10 years later, 48 families (of the total 96) were notified that there was an error in the process of identification. Javier (ES) posts “Fury and anger are my feelings, and then shame. Shame to be living here, where these things happen. The missing detainees from the dictatorship know they are missing again, but in a democracy.”

The process is very painfully for families of the missing detainees. First, because there are still missing detainees that have not been found and others are not identified, so families always wait for news.

Centros Chilenos (ES), writes “…and all the relatives of the victims cried, and dreamt again and the survivors do not resist this damage that the Government has made, taking away the people in life and now bring them back by mistake.”

A district attorney is in charge of an indictment. One of the issues under investigation is why the Medical Institute Service, who was in charge of the identification, did not consider crucial information that could have alerted them of possible mistakes. An expert from Glasgow University was hired in 1991 by the Medical Institute Service to help in the identification process, but the report he made in 1994, was not considered by the authorities. Shidi (ES) posts that “ The open Courtyard 29, reminds us that it is not about going back … it is about wounds that take time to heal and we have to take into account the mourning of the country that has had problems to overcome it.”

Referring to the press’ over- reaction, Alberto Pretch (ES) says, “the non- criterion used to promote this deep doubt and wound is the most macabre thing I have heard in the last 16 years.”

It seems that even in democracy some wounds will not be solved. And it is paradoxical that in a world where technologies exist that are good enough to tell us why King Tut died, or some mother was poisoned, the government did not use the correct ones in this process.

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