BUENOS AIRES – A judge agreed on Wednesday to order the exhumation of the body of one of former Argentine President Carlos Menem’s sons in an effort to determine whether his death in a 1995 helicopter crash was an accident or murder.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had made that request several years ago, but Judge Carlos Villafuerte did not issue the ruling until now because the victim’s mother and Menem’s ex-wife, Zulema Yoma, was not in the proper state of mind to face this process, her attorney told EFE.
“The doctors advised us to wait, but now Zulema is fine and the judge acceded” to the request, Juan Gabriel Labake said.
Yoma asked for the body to be exhumed because she suspects her son’s remains were manipulated to hinder the investigation.
The case returned to the public eye in 2014, when Yoma said her ex-husband had told her in private that their 26-year-old son had not died in an accident but instead had been shot in the head and that there had been a cover-up.
Judge Carlos Villafuerte, who issued Wednesday’s ruling, heard testimony last year from all other living former presidents who governed Argentina after Menem: Fernando de la Rua, who governed from 1999-2001; Ramon Puerta and Adolfo Rodriguez Saa, both in office in 2001; Eduardo Camaño, who governed from 2001-2002; Eduardo Duhalde, in office from 2002-2003; and Cristina Fernandez, who was head of state from 2007 to 2015.
Menem ruled Argentina from 1989 to 1999.
Villafuerte summoned them as witnesses after Menem, whose obligation to maintain state secrets had been lifted by Congress, said in testimony last May that late former Foreign Minister Guido Di Tella had told him the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah killed his son.
Menem’s ex-wife, who has consistently maintained that no accident occurred, said Fernandez told her on one occasion that her son had been the target of an attack.
In her testimony last November, Fernandez said she was almost certain that Menem Jr.’s death in Buenos Aires province was not an accident.
The inquiry is to begin in April, according to Labake, who said the whole process should be concluded by July.