Argentina identifies French nun slain in Dirty War

CLICK HEREForensic experts have identified the skeletal remains of one of two French nuns whose disappearances in 1977 came to symbolise the brutality of Argentina's military dictatorship.

Reuters reports that the remains of Sr Leonie Duquet, a religious of the Foreign Missions who was abducted from a church by security forces, were identified using DNA testing with a blood sample from a relative in France.

Sr Léonie worked as a missionary in poor neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. She was kidnapped on 10 December 1977. She had started to attend meetings of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, who demanded information about their vanished children.

Sr Leonie was found among unmarked graves with the bodies of 11 other "disappeared", including a founding member of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a leading human rights group.

Officially, some 12,000 people either died or disappeared during Argentina's "Dirty War" -- a systematic crackdown on leftists and dissidents during the 1976-1983 military rule. Human rights groups put the number at 30,000. The investigation of their disappearances is among several emblematic human rights cases that have led to the arrests of Dirty War-era officials.

Witnesses say the 61-year-old and fellow French nun Sr Alice Domon were last seen being taken to the Naval Mechanical School in Buenos Aires, the dictatorship's notorious detention center where thousands were tortured.

"We are moved by this very important finding," said Kreiss Blandine, business attache at the French Embassy in Buenos Aires, which has lobbied Argentina's government and courts to help find the nuns.

Argentina identifies French nun slain in Dirty War (Reuters 30/8/05)
Remains of Nun Identified in Argentina (Zenit 31/8/05)

2 Sep 2005