Exhumation In Search Of The Disappeared By The US Invasion Of Panama Ends

The judicial authorities of Panama culminated this Thursday the exhumation process of human remains in a cemetery in the Panamanian capital in search of the disappeared during the United States invasion of the country in 1989.

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In this process, which began on January 20 and suffered a recess due to the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a total of “33 cadaveric bags” were exhumed with “remains of people who were victims of the United States invasion of Panama, “said the Public Ministry in a statement.

The bags are “properly packed” in the Judicial Morgue and once the remains “are in the laboratory of the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences, they will be worked by the experts to carry out their due analysis.”

This exhumation process began under the protection of a judicial decision that reopened 14 cases of those disappeared during the US invasion in December 1989 to capture the dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega (1934-2017).

The skeletal remains, some of which were found in coffins and plastic bags, will be subjected to analyzes that include a comparison with the DNA of the relatives of the victims of the military action in order to corroborate the identity, according to official information. .

The Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences team of the Panamanian Public Ministry carried out the exhumations with the advice of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, and at the beginning of the process it was reported that a total of 19 graves in the Garden were planned to be excavated. of Peace of the Panamanian capital.

Thirty years later it is still not known with certainty in Panama the real number of those killed during the invasion, in which the US mobilized 26,000 soldiers and used last-generation weapons to capture Noriega, who, accused of drug trafficking, surrendered on January 3, 1990, and dismantle the Panamanian Defense Forces.

US documents declassified over the years and published for the first time last December point to 516 deaths during the invasion, 314 of them military, the vast majority of them Panamanians, while in the Central American country there are thousands of dead civilians and violations of human rights.

A Commission backed by the Panamanian Government has been investigating since 2016 to determine the actual number of victims, identify them and establish the basis for probable individual claims, the organisation’s president, university president Juan Planells told Efe.

“Contrary to what many believe, the victims were not soldiers and battalions who defended the Noriega government. The vast majority were civilians who suffered these consequences through violation of war protocols,” Planells said.

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