Red Cross identifies 88 Argentines killed in Falklands War | News | DW | 02.12.2017
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Red Cross identifies 88 Argentines killed in Falklands War

Scientists have identified the remains of 88 Argentine soldiers buried on East Falkland Island. The soldiers were killed during the 1982 Falklands War with Britain.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has identified the corpses of 88 Argentine soldiers who died in the Falklands War, known in Spanish as the War of the South Atlantic.Between June 20 and August 7, scientists analyzed 122 sets of remains in graves marked "Argentine soldier only known to God" in the Darwin Cemetery, an ICRC spokeswoman said. In addition, researchers interviewed the families of dead or missing Argentine soldiers; the relatives of 107 consented to DNA testing. In December 2016, the two countries signed an agreement to try to identify the soldiers and to divide the $1.5 million in related costs. The countries are also obliged by international humanitarian law to identify the battlefield dead.

The ICRC's multinational 14-member forensic anthropology team began its efforts in June. The samples were analyzed in the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team's laboratory, and scientists in the United Kingdom and Spain confirmed the results of the DNA testing.

On Friday, once it was announced that the corpses had been identified, Argentine Human Rights Secretary Claudio Avruj hailed "a historic and transcendent moment, saying it "closes wounds and gives peace to the families." Argentina's government plans to bring relatives to the cemetery so they might put proper plaques on the graves of their deceased kin.

History of conflict

In 1982, the two-month war for control of the islands killed 255 British troops, 649 Argentine soldiers — the majority of whom perished on a Navy ship that sank — and three islanders.

Argentine officials say the country inherited the islands, which lie just 500 kilometers (300 miles) from the mainland and are known in Spanish as the Malvinas, when it won its independence from Spain in the 19th century. However, President Mauricio Macri has adopted a softer tone than his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez.

The UK claims a historical right to the islands, which it began occupying in 1833. In a 2013 referendum, residents voted overwhelmingly to remain part of Britain. In 2015, it was revealed that the UK spied on Argentine officials long after the war.

mkg/cmk (EFE, Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)