IMPOSSIBLE TO IDENTIFY ALL WAR DEAD

Forensic experts, anthropologists and historians have said that the current drive by Judge Baltasar Garzon to recover and identify the bones of all the Republicans who died during or after the Civil War from common graves cannot possibly succeed. They said only 10% to 15% of the 143,000 missing bodies would eventually be identified. They said the common practice had been to shovel hundreds of bodies into the mass graves and the bones would be so entangled that it would be difficult to separate them into whole skeletons. A spokesman for one of the groups that is digging up graves in Valladolid agreed with the experts. He said his group had a list of 1,600 people who had been executed but only 125 had been identified so far. He said it was only feasible to open small graves where the identity of the people buried there was known. He said the biggest grave his group had opened had contained 11 bodies. Another problem was encountered by a similar group on Valencia, where people who had died of natural or accidental causes had also ended up in the common graves during and after the war, when many people were too poor to give their relatives a decent burial. The experts also pointed out that each DNA test costs €3,000, or more than €429 billion, if all 143,000 bodies can be identified and asked who would foot the bill.

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