Sunday, December 3, 2023

Family was given wrong body after case of mistaken identity

The family of a Guatemalan migrant whose remains were found in a mass grave in Tamaulipas was given the wrong body by Mexican authorities seven years ago.

Relatives have been mourning over someone else’s disappeared family member ever since.

According to documents accessed by the newspaper Reforma and dated November 18, 2011, then attorney general Marisela Morales identified the body, which was given to family members in Guatemala in March 2012.

But Argentinian forensic anthropologists discovered in 2014 that the body had been misidentified, and the remains of the family’s loved one remained in the Forensic Sciences Institute in Mexico City.

The family has still not been notified of the error. The body they buried will have to be exhumed to be properly identified and conveyed to its true relatives.

The story is only coming to light now despite the fact that three previous attorneys general — Jesús Murillo Karam, Arely Gómez and Arturo Elías Beltrán — as well the current administration had full knowledge of the error.

The Argentinian team participated in efforts to identify 314 bodies found in secret graves in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, and Cadereyta, Nuevo León.

The team carried out its own studies despite the Attorney General’s Office having done so previously. When it discovered the mistaken identity the team passed the information on to then attorney general Murillo.

The director of the department’s genetic laboratory at the time, Martha Acela Valdéz, said the Guatemalan government was made aware of the mistake in 2016, but did not want to reveal the error for fear of being seen as irresponsible.

“We were in the Mexican Embassy in Guatemala and they told us, ‘Well, the family already has a body to mourn, so what difference does it make if we say anything or not?’” she said.

Acela says she handled the case in Guatemala until the end of 2016, when she was demoted from her post.

“It is a complete lack of responsibility, let alone a lack of empathy, but the negligence of the state in remaining quiet — and that’s what has happened up to now, no one has said a thing — is a political issue,” she said.

Acela added that she fears those responsible might want to place the blame on her, although she claims that she always insisted that the case be brought to light.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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