Latin America & Caribbean

DNA tests for Argentine Clarin group heirs

Marcela and Felipe Noble Herrera
Image caption Marcela and Felipe say they have no wish to discover their birth families

An Argentine court has ruled that the heirs to the country's main media group must submit to DNA-testing, to see if they were born to left-wing prisoners killed by the military in the 1970s.

Judges ruled that Marcela and Felipe Noble Herrera - adopted children of the Clarin Group owner - must give direct samples such as blood or saliva.

They will be compared with samples on a genetic database linked to the missing.

The siblings object to the tests. Their mother says their adoption was legal.

Campaigners have said previous samples given by the siblings were not adequate for testing.

These include blood samples the siblings gave in 2009 at a federal agency, but not the National Bank of Genetic Data.

The issue of babies taken from prisoners during the country's so-called Dirty War is a highly emotive one in Argentina.

Several hundred babies are believed to have been taken from their detained parents and given to families loyal to the military during its 1976-83 rule.

Groups like the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who campaign on behalf of people who were "disappeared" by the military, have helped a number of children locate their biological relatives.

In 2009, Argentina's congress passed a measure allowing forcible extraction of DNA in such cases, even when the people concerned do not want to discover their past.

Forced sell-off

The Noble Herrera siblings claim their rights have been violated.

They say their DNA is private, that they have no desire to trace their biological parents, and that they are victims of political persecution.

In recent years, the media group owned by their adoptive mother, Ernestina Noble Herrera, has been staunchly opposed to the current government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

In 2009, President Fernandez succeeded in driving through legislation that forced Clarin to sell off parts of its media empire.

The BBC's Vladimir Hernandez in Buenos Aires says the latest ruling could put an end to a court battle that has lasted some 10 years.

But, he adds, the decision could stir up a political storm.

The siblings could still appeal to the Supreme Court.

But if the tests are carried out and prove the Noble Herreras were taken from detainees, their adoptive mother could face a criminal investigation.

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