Multiple Claimants Force DNA Test On the Body of Ignatius D’Souza

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Mangalore, 24 May 2010: Like all rituals of death that rest on the basic need that bodies of the dead must be removed so they could be accorded a dignified burial or cremation, the relatives of Ignatius D’Souza, who was originally from Manibettu, Moodubelle prepared themselves to give him a simple farewell.

 But amid the sombre and depressing surroundings of the mortuary at Wenlock Hospital, Ignatius’s body, charred beyond recognition in Saturday’s inferno inside Flight IX-812, turned something like a passing-the-parcel game. 

For the grief-stricken relatives searching for the remains of their loved ones who perished in the flames that blew the aircraft after it crash-landed and careened off the runway to plunge into the valley on the edge of the table-top runway, the emotional trauma was overwhelming.

At the morgue, there was no hope, just despair. And for three families the sense of gloom and despair was compounded many times over when they laid claim to one body — that of Ignatius.

The relatives of Ignatius, 49, of Shaktinagar in Mangalore, identified his body on Sunday. An autopsy was conducted on the body which was then released to the family.

But before Ignatius’s relatives could even remove the body so it could be accorded a quick and dignified burial, a second claimant to the corpse landed, almost from nowhere. 

“The body had to be returned to Wenlock Hospital authorities when some people from Kerala laid claim to it,” said Stany Alvares, a friend of Ignatius.

According to Alvares, Ignatius’s wife and children closely scrutinised the body before identifying it as his. “Even the hospital authorities were convinced it was Ignatius and handed over the body to the family members. However, when it was sent to SCS Hospital for preservation (before the funeral could take place), another family from Kerala claimed it as the body of someone they lost in the crash,” Alvares told Deccan Herald.

When the family from Kerala claimed to have identified the “right” body, the remains were brought back to the Wenlock morgue. Moments later, the confusion was thought to have been cleared when the people from Kerala abandoned it saying that some other body — not Ignatius’s — they had seen was that of their relative.

Just as Ignatius’s family members had heaved a collective sigh of relief and prepared to take the body away that another party from Uppala contested that it was that of their relative Basheer, 39, who was on-board the doomed flight.

Exasperated, Wenlock Hospital decided that it would rather not leave anything for conjecture and that it would carry out a DNA test on Ignatius’s body to establish which of the two families — Basheer’s or Ignatius’s — could be rightful claimant




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