Father Denies Argentina Barred Him From Bringing Back Son’s Body
STANLEY, Falkland Islands (AP) _ The father of an Argentine fighter pilot killed in the 1982 Falkland Islands war on Sunday denied that his government had barred him from returning his son’s body to Argentina.
Isaias Lenin Gimenez said Argentine Foreign Minister Dante Caputo told him the burial of his son, Lt. Miguel Angel Gimenez, was a personal matter.
Lt. Gimenez died May 29, 1982, when his fighter plane crashed on a mountaintop in a remote part of East Falkland Island.
The body of the 28-year-old airman was discovered in the wreckage Aug. 26, and he was buried at a Falklands cemetery on Saturday.
The elder Gimenez and his daughter, Maria Carolina, attended the funeral, becoming the first Argentines to set foot on the Falklands since British forces drove Argentine occupiers off the islands in a 74-day war.
The pair had to travel 17,000 miles via London to cover the 300-mile distance from Argentina to the Falklands because Britain and Argentina severed all links after the war.
The British Ministry of Defense said in a statement Saturday that Gimenez ″first expressed his wish for the transfer of the body to its native soil, but the Argentine government for political reasons refused permission for the body to be returned to Argentina.″
″It isn’t true,″ Gimenez told a news conference Sunday, adding he believed the statement was the result of a misunderstanding.
Gimenez said several Argentine military officers had said his son’s body should remain in the Falklands, but stressed that the officers did not speak for the Argentine government.
Argentina was reported in Britain to have refused to accept the return of any of its war dead because it would compromise its sovereignty claim of the Falklands, which it calls Las Malvinas.
Britain and the Falklands agreed on humanitarian grounds to allow Gimenez to attend the funeral.
Gimenez said more Argentine parents should be allowed to visit their sons’ graves at the Argentine cemetery near Darwin in the Falklands.
He said he did not believe it was right for his son’s body to be returned home ahead of other Argentines killed in the Falklands. Asked if he wanted his son’s body returned, he replied, ″Hopefully.″
A total of 712 Argentine and 255 British servicemen were killed in the war.
Britain has ruled the Falklands as a colony since 1833.