September 3, 2003

Argentina 'Dirty War' baby buries dad he never met

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Reuters) --Just six months after learning the military
stole him as a baby and killed his parents in Argentina's "Dirty War," Horacio
Pietragalla Corti buried on Wednesday the father he never knew.

His father's corpse was found after investigators unearthed this year the
biggest 1976-1983 dictatorship-era mass grave yet in central Argentina.
About 40 victims of the military junta were buried there.

"Now he's where we want him to be, not where the military wanted to hide
him," said Pietragalla Corti, a 27-year-old beer deliveryman whose identity as a
stolen baby of "disappeared" Argentines was confirmed in March by DNA

The young man's story of self-discovery emerged just as Argentina's new
government seeks to confront one of its darkest episodes and try those military
officials involved in the kidnaps and deaths of up to 30,000 regime opponents.

Pietragalla Corti tucked an Argentine flag into the small wooden box housing his
father's remains. He tossed a flower into the grave and said goodbye.

During a simple Roman Catholic mass held in his father's honor in the capital,
Pietragalla Corti and other relatives and friends lamented the loss of tortured
and killed "companeros."

The ceremony completes a full circle for Pietragalla Corti, who as a baby was
handed over to a military officer's maid after his mother and father were
kidnapped and murdered.

The maid brought him up, but he discovered his real parentage with help from
rights group Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, which searches for the
hundreds of children abducted in the dictatorship.

For many victims' relatives, the battles rage on as Argentine judges reopen old
human rights cases and challenge amnesty laws. In August, Congress annulled
two 1980s-era amnesties that protected officials from prosecution, part of a
campaign by President Nestor Kirchner to bring rights abusers to trial. But a
final decision rests with the Supreme Court.

Copyright 2003 Reuters.