DNA tests on the adopted children of Argentina’s most powerful media family have failed to show any matches in a national gene bank where families of victims of the dictatorship (1976/1983) have donated their DNA.
The Grupo Clarin company was celebrating the negative results Saturday in its newspapers, websites and television and radio stations, saying it's now clear that after many years of legal battles, Ernestina Herrara de Noble never illegally adopted the babies of political prisoners and that the government of Argentina has been persecuting her in an attempt to control the nation's media.
However human rights groups including the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, says the work isn't done.
So far, the DNA of Marcela and Felipe Noble (in their thirties) have been compared only to people known to have been detained and disappeared in 1975 and 1976. They also argue that the National Gene Bank is constantly being updated with new samples despite the military junta's efforts to remove any trace of their opponents. This year alone they've sought court orders to open 40 graves to collect more DNA.
The next step is to check the 1977 gene bank, while human rights groups seek more samples from families of victims for whom the comparisons were inconclusive.
Lawyers for the Noble family say the case should now be thrown out. But by law, human rights groups say, the comparisons must continue as the database grows.
The issue has become highly political involving the administration of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, human rights groups supported and financed by the government and the Clarin media, the most powerful and influential in Argentina.
The Noble children had fought for years to limit the investigation into their background to the two families who initially sued their adoptive mother. Previous attempts to obtain reliable samples from them failed either because the courts failed to maintain the chain of custody over the material or because samples taken from their clothing were contaminated.
They finally consented to donating their DNA directly to the bank on June 24.
The work of the lab's scientists is being overseen by Judge Sandra Arroyo and monitored by representatives of both sides.
The Grandmothers group has helped identify 104 children who were stolen from their mothers shortly after birth in clandestine detention centres, and believes about 400 others have yet to be found.
The Noble children have insisted on their right to determine their own identity, and have fiercely defended their adoptive mother, whose media conglomerate has been engaged in an interminable power struggle with President Cristina Fernandez.
Her administration has passed laws making DNA tests mandatory for adopted children suspected of being stolen babies and a media bill which targets the dismembering of large groups, obviously such as Clarin.
Usually not too distant from Argentine governments, given its massive interests in television, broadcasting and print, the Clarin group was blacklisted by the current Cristina Fernandez administration when they openly supported the 2008 farmers’ strike, one of her government’s major setbacks.
Clarin is the Spanish language newspaper with the largest circulation in the world.