The country’s eyes continue laid on the body that was found yesterday in the Chubut river, as every new indicator that surfaces further points at it being Santiago Maldonado’s.
However, and despite press reports such as the body having clothes that match the description that witnesses gave of what he was wearing, or that it was carrying Maldonado’s ID, the 28-year-old tattoo artist’s family is requesting all involved in the case be prudent, and wait for the autopsy to provide the answers.
In a press conference held in the city of Esquel, Sergio Maldonado said that “we need to be careful, as I can’t say it [that the body is Maldonado’s] because I couldn’t identify him. Until we are not 100 percent sure, I won’t confirm it, despite the body has some personal belongings.”
Santiago’s brother went on to raise questions about the circumstances in which the body was found, positing that it could have been “planted” there by someone. “It’s quite strange that it was found there. We have passed by the area and there was nothing,” he argued during the press conference. “I can’t assure it [that the body was planted], but I believe it was,” he added.
The family’s lawyer, Verónica Heredia, as well as representative of the Mapuche indigenous community Maldonado was with on August 1, Soraya Maicoño, echoed the theory in respective contacts with the press.
All parties involved in the case flew to Buenos Aires today morning to begin with the body’s autopsy, which will be conducted at the judicial morgue located in the neighborhood of Tribunales. Prosecutor Silvina Ávila’s office requested the autopsy be conducted in accordance with the UN’s protocol for the investigation of potentially unlawful death.
Forensic experts representing all parties will be present at the procedure, seeking for the body – should it end up being Maldonado’s – answer the many questions that would arise: was he beaten and if so, do the blows match with weapons used by Border Patrol officers? Was he actually there for 78 days or was the body planted by someone? Was he held in captivity? Sources with access to the investigation already told Infobae the body doesn’t present bullet wounds, although this hasn’t been confirmed officially.
“The body will speak. It will reveal its identity and talk about what happened until it reached that place,” said Federal Judge Gustavo Lleral, who is also in Buenos Aires. The judge ordered the autopsy be conducted by the Supreme Court’s forensic experts team, along with two members of the Argentine team of Forensics Anthropology and other experts.
It’s still unknown when the procedure will officially begin, but Lleral has already ordered for them to determine “the identity, information and cause of death of the human body found,” and established safety measures that will have to be followed during the autopsy: he ordered it be filmed – with audio – by two cameras, one stationary and one mobile, and for a representative of the Supreme Court team two take pictures. According to press, the body’s DNA could be revealed in two days. The day before the elections, that is.
Meanwhile, the political landscape continues to be a clusterfuck. Several political parties – such as Cambiemos in the Buenos Aires Province and Unidad Ciudadana in the City – have suspended the remaining of their electoral campaigns ahead of Sunday’s midterm elections, while other ones haven’t confirmed whether they will hold their events scheduled for today and tomorrow, when the campaign ends.
The certain possibility that the body is Maldonado’s is completely dominating the news cycles, and has caused more than one controversial situation. Chief among them was a statement made by Cambiemos co-founder and National Deputy Elisa “Lilita” Carrió, who in a TV show compared the body – still theoretically – being in freezing water for 78 days with the myth about Walt Disney being cryogenically frozen.
The comment was met with harsh criticism from political leaders from the opposition and Maldonado’s family and even though Carrió later apologized, explaining that she didn’t intend to trivialize the situation, her campaign team decided to cancel the TV appearances she had scheduled until Friday.
Quiero decirle a la flia de S. Maldonado q nada de lo q dije tuvo la intención de herirlos,y si lo hice, les pido las más sentidas disculpas
— Elisa Lilita Carrió (@elisacarrio) October 19, 2017
“I want to tell S. Maldonado’s family that nothing that I said was meant to hurt you, and if I did, I offer my most sincere apology.”
Tengo el más íntimo deseo y la voluntad de que haya justicia para Santiago y pido perdón de corazón si les causé algún dolor.
— Elisa Lilita Carrió (@elisacarrio) October 19, 2017
“I have the most intimate desire and will that there is justice for Santiago and I apologize from the bottom of my heart if I caused you any pain.”
However, Maldonado’s sister-in-law said that ever since Carrió “started talking about Maldonado, her statements have been very hurtful.” “We believe that a political leader can’t say the outrageous things she said about his body, we think it’s disrespectful,” she said.
President Mauricio Macri hasn’t publicly talked about the case yet, although he made a reference to it when speaking at a World Health Organization (WHO) conference that took place in Uruguay yesterday. “I value this meeting a lot, that’s why I’m here, even though I’m having a rather complex week, with particularly complex situations we are having in Argentina, so thank you for the invitation,” he said. According to press, he is not set to address the case in the next days.