(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
The scientific advances made in the last few years have been of tremendous importance in the identification of children who have disappeared.
From the beginning of their long pilgrimage, the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo established contact with different scientific institutions in Sweden, France and the United States.
In 1982 they established contact with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, based in Washington, and with Dr Fred Allen of the Blood Centre in New York (Dr Allen was one of the members of the investigative team who had been responsible for blood transfusions in children born with the blood group RH negative), At that point work began on tracing the parenthood of children in families where neither father nor mother was alive. Parenthood was traced through their grandparents, or through uncles, aunts and other relatives on both sides of the family.
To determine the identity and parenthood of the children who disappeared, blood tests were carried out to determine genetic features with the following as proofs:
a) Blood groups.
b) Protein cells.
c) H.L. or histocompatibility.
d) Enzyme cells.
The results of these tests provide conclusive proof identity and parenthood. In addition, there is a new method for reconstituting changes in an- arance, over a period of time by means of computers, as has been demonstrated by a group of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
One of the cases in which the techniques and knowledge of Argentine and North American forensic doctors has been applied is that of the Lanouscou family.
The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo learnt of burials corresponding to three children and their parents. From the dates and places they believed that they were of Roberto Lanouscou, his wife Bárbara de Miranda de Lanouscou and their children Roberto, aged five, Bárbara aged four, and Matilda, six months old. All of them were looked for unsuccessfully by relatives, The death certificates had the initials NN (persons unknown) on them and were signed by Dr Roberto Enrique Bettale, the Chief Medical Officer in the Buenos Aires Police Force, and dated 5 September 1976.
The Grandmothers went to see the judge of the San Isidro Minors' Court, Dr Juan Carlos Fugaretta, where an unsuccessful request for a search for the family had been lodged. The Grandmothers also saw Dr Sordelli Carreras, in charge of Criminal Court No. 1 of San Isidro.
Dr Dillon, who was the replacement judge, ordered the exhumation of the five bodies at the request of the children's grandparents, backed by the legal team of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. The team asked to be present during the exhumation, to accompany the relatives, and because an anonymous deposition had been sent to the headquarters of the Grandmothers' organization claiming that one of the young children was dead.
On 25 January 1984 the exhumation was carried out in the Boulogne Cemetery. On opening the coffin of Matilda, the youngest daughter, a small baby's blanket was found wrapped up, and in it a pink bear and a baby's dummy. In addition, there
were some white socks. But there were no human remains that could have been those of a baby of approximately six months old.
This was also corroborated by a leading North American specialist, Dr Clyde Snow, a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, during a visit to Buenos Aires in June 1984, at the invitation of the Commission.
Later, the Commission received the deposition of a former collaborator in the task forces associated with the Navy (file No. 6527), in which it was said that the young girl Matilda Lanouscou had been handed over to members of this force.
For obvious reasons, in previous years, it was preferable to start investigations of this sort abroad. But now the tests are being carried out in the Durand Hospital in Buenos Aires in Dr Di Lonardo's laboratory, which comes under the Secretary for Public Health in the Municipality of Buenos Aires.
In 1984 further contact was established with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which established links with the Commission on Disappeared People, the Grandmothers' organization acting as intermediary. In June last year members of the American Association were invited to a working session.