Friday, June 17, 2011


For over eighteen months I have been writing about the cases of the missing babies that were first announced in La Línea de la Concepción in November 2009 but which have since been reported throughout Spain. Indeed there are now 105 “denuncias” in the Campo de Gibraltar alone.

In La Línea the missing babies were largely all born either in the former municipal hospital or two private clinics in the town. The mothers were told their babies had died shortly after birth but the suspicion of many of these families is their babies were sold or offered up to adoptive families.

The cases in the Campo de Gibraltar have been taken over by the Algeciras prosecutor who in turn has ordered the National Police to investigate. The majority of the reports of the missing babies relate to the 60s and 70s although some extend in to the 1980s.

On Tuesday afternoon the San José cemetery closed its gates after a La Línea judge ordered three of the niches to be opened. At around 17.00, with the judge, a judicial secretary, forensic police and members of the specialised and violent crime squad in attendance, the exhumations started. The parents of the babies involved were only informed hours before the niches were opened and the mobile phones of the cemetery employees were impounded so no photographs could be taken.

The final resting places opened belonged to a baby that allegedly died in 1971 and two who passed away in 1988. In the first case the remains were supposedly buried but seven years later the parents decided to place their son in a niche. It was then the parents discovered the cemetery had not registered their child’s burial and in the place of a certificate for the moving of a tomb they were given one for interment. In the two 1988 cases the remains are in the cemetery but the families believe their own new born babies were sold or offered for adoption.

Now we are approaching the moment of truth in these specific cases. The remains from each tomb were placed in a separate cardboard box. In one tomb there was just dust, in the case of the baby from 1971 some suspicious bones and in the third bone fragments. These will now be analysed by the forensic scientists and if human remains then DNA tested to see if they match with their alleged family members.

Many of the mothers who gave birth and believe their babies were stolen did not have the support of a family around them because they had come to La Línea from another part of Spain looking for work, often in Gibraltar. However the story of Francisco del Valle, whose son supposedly died on July 7 1971, is pitiful to modern day ears.

Their baby died just two hours after it was born. The matron told them what had happened and said they were not to worry as they were young and could have more children. It was then explained to them that every time a whale passed through the Strait of Gibraltar a baby died, and that is what had happened in their case.

Del Valle says because of their ignorance and the epoch in which they then lived – the Franco dictatorship - they said nothing. However he was shocked to find the coffin supposedly bearing the body of his son weighed virtually nothing. Now the DNA of the pieces of bone will be matched with that of his wife and the truth will finally be known.

No comments: