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Johannesburg - The Libyan government has received the first of a number of DNA matches from bodies that were found in a mass grave, one of which could be that of photographer Anton Hammerl.
The seven samples, according to Libyan government officials, arrived in Libya on Thursday from the International Commission for Missing Persons, (ICMP) in Bosnia. But none of the samples are linked to the missing photographer, who was killed on April 5, 2011.
These are the first of a 100 samples that are been analysed by the ICMP. It is expected that all the samples will arrive back in Libya in the next 10 days.
Hammerl, who previously worked for the Saturday Star, died while covering the Libyan civil war.
His body was believed to be among 169 other bodies exhumed from a mass grave near the town of Bin Jawwad.
Hospital records showed the body was that of a white male of Hammerl’s height, with black hair, and that he had died around the same date. A lens was also recovered nearby.
However, those who have seen the lens believe it did not come from a camera, but might be from a pair of binoculars.
“We will be receiving results as they go along,” said Mervat Mhani of the Libyan Ministry of Martyrs and Missing People. These individuals were identified from DNA extracted after a mass exhumation. The DNA was then compared to that of relatives.
She added that once the government received the samples, the remains of the person would be exhumed and subjected to a physical examination.
“Only then would the family be informed, and they would then decide if they wanted to move the remains,” Mhani added.
The mass grave in Bin Jawwad was exhumed early last year by relatives of the dead. The exhumation was supervised by the ministry.
There was a delay in sending the samples to the ICMP, as a decision had to be made if they would be analysed in Libya.