By Heather Briley for MercoPress
LONDON, UK – Almost forty years after the Falklands conflict the identity document of an Argentine soldier has been sold on the UK eBay website. It belongs to the director of the Malvinas Museum in Buenos Aires, Edgardo Esteban, 58. He expressed his dismay at the sale and was moved to tears that it had surfaced after all this time.
Argentine author and historian Alicia Panero originally spotted a bundle of items for sale on eBay at the end of October. It included a British Marines medal belonging to a P J Sinclair, Argentine banknotes, some photographs and the ID document. She informed Esteban.
“I felt really moved and emotional when Alicia called me. After 38 years, to see my ID document for sale on the web upset me. I felt really emotional. I cried with my partner and son. It was like going back in a time tunnel. I try to live in the present, but this took me back. When I saw the picture of me when I was 18 years old doing my military service it opened up wounds. It lasted days. I believed I had healed, but it opened my wounds up.”
Esteban says he had his document confiscated when he was a prisoner of war at the end of the conflict and assumes it was among personal items taken from him as he boarded the Canberra ship to return home.
“It’s my ID document. Identity is very important to Argentines. We are still identifying soldiers buried in the Malvinas. It’s part of my history. You can’t sell that. It’s unfair and shouldn’t be done. And it also violates the Geneva Convention.”
Research uncovered that the package of items was originally sold in July by prestigious London auction house Dix Noonan Webb for £750. It was later listed on eBay by seller ‘harrypitt69’ for £1750 at the end of October and apparently sold within days.
Fernando Cincotta, founder and CEO of Cincotta International Advisory, Esteban’s solicitor in London, working with Barrister Jonathan Gold of Blackfriars Chambers, has sent ‘letters before claim’ to both the eBay user and auction house.
Cincotta says the sales are unlawful because they breach the 1957 Geneva Convention which states no prisoner shall be without military ID. He also refers to the Identity Card Act of 2010 under which it is an offence for a person to have an ID that was improperly obtained, punishable with up to ten years imprisonment.
If we don’t get a favorable response from Dix Noonan Webb, auction house, within a reasonable period of time, I will initiate the corresponding legal actions because a criminal offence has been committed. I will do whatever is necessary to get the ID returned to my client,” said Cincotta.
Dix Noonan Webb has responded to Cincotta and said they will cooperate to get the ID document returned to Esteban.
Questioned as to what he will do when the ID is returned to him Esteban said “at nearly 60 years old it’s time to get rid of things, we have enough stuff. Ethically I should donate it. Maybe when I am no longer director of the Museo Malvinas I will donate it to the museum along with some other personal memorabilia from 1982.”