The team of investigators of war crimes of The anti-terrorist division of the British police handed over this Monday to the Argentine Embassy in London an identity document and personal photos of the Director of the Malvinas Museum, Edgardo Esteban, which were seized from him at the time of the surrender of the Argentine troops during the Malvinas War.
According to the Argentine Embassy in London, the document was acquired by a private person on a website for sale and was later sold to an anonymous collector. As a result of the warning made to the Argentine Embassy by the Argentine journalist, Alicia Panero, a series of actions were unleashed that culminated in the delivery of the belongings.
“Given the refusal of the last holder and after unsuccessful informal efforts, a criminal complaint was filed with the London Metropolitan Police who managed, after a year, to recover the objects. The data that led to the resolution of the case was provided to the police by the Embassy,” he reported. Javier Esteban FigueroaArgentine ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
“Given the refusal of the last holder and after unsuccessful informal efforts, a criminal complaint was filed with the London Metropolitan Police who managed, after a year, to recover the objects”
“During the process, discussions were held with the UK Foreign Office and Ministry of Defense highlighting the sensitivity and fairness of the case. Journalists became interested in the case as well as a retired British military officer interested in humanitarian issues and offered their collaboration. Our thanks go to all of them, as well as to the officers of the Metropolitan Police and to Dr. Cincotta, a lawyer for the local court and legal representative of Edgardo Esteban,” the ambassador said.
And I add: “The illegitimate possession of someone else’s document is a crime defined in local legislation, as well as a violation of Humanitarian Law. A prisoner may not be deprived of documents and personal belongings by his or her captors after hostilities have ceased. Beyond the enormous happiness of Edgardo Esteban by recovering his personal effects, the resolution of the case may serve as a precedent for similar cases. There are still objects owned by Argentine soldiers in British hands.”
“I want to highlight that there were various cases of restitution of aircraft parts, helmets and uniforms, etc., in which the Argentine Embassy in London was recently involved. All in the hands of individuals who voluntarily contacted us and we were able to return them to museums or their owners. Someone may think that the return of personal objects or documents after 40 years is a minor event. However, the symbolic charge of transforming a ‘war trophy’, which looks cold in a display case, into a gesture of friendship and respect should not be minimized”, the diplomat stressed.
“In this framework, restitutions, whether they are a voluntary decision or the result of the application of the law, have a healing effect, not only among those directly and personally involved, but also on a broader symbolic level. Malvinas is not only a conflict of sovereignty, but also has a powerful emotional charge where symbolic gestures count. From day one, the Argentine Foreign Ministry decided not to politicize the case or make it public. We trust that the law was on our side and that the British legal system could not ignore the just claim of Edgardo Esteban”, he stressed.
Finally, he referred to the conflict over the British usurpation of the Islands. “We hope that the same zeal in carrying out justice and the law will be the way to resolve the Malvinas Question and that more gestures like the recent one will contribute to healing wounds by bringing men and women closer together, who in a fateful moment faced each other and were willing to the maximum sacrifice”, he concluded.