Adoptee Sues Parents for Kidnapping
By MAYRA PERTOSSI
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Feb. 19) - A 30-year-old woman is suing her adoptive parents for kidnapping in a case that opened in an Argentine court Tuesday, becoming the first child of disappeared political prisoners to press such charges.
Maria Eugenia Sampallo Barragan accused her adoptive parents Osvaldo Rivas and Maria Cristina Gomez Pinto of falsifying adoption documents to hide her identity. She made no comments on leaving court Tuesday.
Thousands of leftists and dissidents vanished after being abducted by security forces during Argentina's 1976-1983 military regime, and human rights groups say more than 200 of their children were taken and given to military or politically connected families to raise.
Sampallo, who in 2001 learned that she is the daughter of missing political prisoners Mirta Mable Barragan and Leonardo Ruben Sampallo, is one of 88 young people who determined their identity with DNA tests coordinated by the human rights group Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo.
Sampallo's mother was six months pregnant when she and her father were abducted on Dec. 6, 1977, said Sampallo's lawyer, Tomas Ojea Quentin. He said Sampallo was born in February 1978, while her mother was being held at a clandestine torture center.
Ojea Quentin said former army captain Enrich Berthier is facing related baby theft charges in the case. He is being held at a military unit, while Sampallo's adoptive parents are reportedly free.
Lawyers for Berthier and the Gomez Pintos declined to comment when they left the courthouse where an Associated Press writer and other journalists were waiting.
The case marks the first time a woman has taken her adoptive parents to court in Argentina. There have been at least three earlier trials involving suspected illegal adoptions dating to the dictatorship that resulted in convictions - but the plaintiffs were not the adopted children.
Also Tuesday, a former military officer wanted in connection with the 1972 execution of 16 leftist guerrillas surrendered, hours after returning from the United States, government news agency Telam said.
Carlos Marandino is the fourth former naval officer arrested this month on torture and murder charges linked to the "Trelew Massacre" of 16 leftist rebels who fled an Argentine prison, presaging the excesses of Argentina's so-called dirty war.
Marandino walked off a jet at Buenos Aires's Ezeiza Airport and was detained, Telam reported.
Marandino's co-defendants include Ruben Paccagnini, 81, former head of the Almirante Zar Trelew southern military base; Emilio Del Real, 73, a frigate captain who allegedly witnessed the 1972 executions; and Luis Emilio Sosa, 73, a former navy captain who allegedly captured the escapees.
Lawyers for the three men have protested their innocence, but it was not immediately known if Marandino had hired a lawyer.
Some 25 leftist guerrillas escaped a southern Argentine penitentiary in a 1972 jailbreak. Six fled by plane to Chile, where they were granted political asylum and allowed to proceed to Cuba. The other 19 were taken to a nearby naval base, where 16 were shot dead in their cells, prosecutors say.