Estela de Carlotto has found her grandson after searching for 35 years. File picture: Marcos Brindicci

Buenos Aires -

The long lost grandson of the head of an Argentine rights group that has fought to find babies stolen by the 1976-1983 military dictatorship has been found after a 35-year search.

Estela Carlotto, the 83-year-old leader of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo group, was told that her daughter's kidnapped son was found after DNA tests confirmed the now 36-year-old man's identity, a relative and a judge said on Tuesday

The man's mother, Laura Carlotto, was kidnapped while pregnant during the dictatorship's “dirty war” against leftists and dissidents.

She gave birth on June 26, 1978, while being detained by the authorities and was killed shortly after giving birth to the boy, whom she had named Guido, according to a fellow captive.

Ever since then, Estela Carlotto searched desperately for her grandson, convinced that the boy, who has Italian and Argentine citizenship, was alive.

The man is named Ignacio Hurban and lives in Olavarria, a city 350km south-west of Buenos Aires, said federal judge Maria Servini de Cubria, who is in charge of several cases of babies who were stolen by the right-wing military regime.

Kivo Carlotto, son of Estela and brother of Laura, revealed that a DNA test found with 99.9 percent certainty that his nephew had finally been found.

“The result of the test was positive. We have found my nephew after 35 years,” Kivo Carlotto, who is human rights secretary for Buenos Aires province, told Todo Noticias television.

While the family was overjoyed to find their missing relative, it was also “a terrible feeling”, Kivo Carlotto said, adding that the revelation was also “a terrible shock” for his nephew.

“But he presented himself voluntarily and he's doing alright,” the uncle said.

News of the discovery was delivered to Carlotto by federal judge Maria Servini de Cubria, who is in charge of several cases of babies who were stolen by the right-wing military regime.

“I gave her the news. I have recovered several children but this is the biggest thrill. I always told Estela: I am going to find your grandson,” Servini de Cubria told Del Plata radio.

Judge Servini de Cubria said the man's DNA was compared to the remains of his father.

“When it was known that he could be Estela's grandson, we worked all weekend and the Genetics Database did an excellent job,” Servini de Cubria said.

The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and a sister group, Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, have been leading a nationwide effort to reunite an estimated 500 children who were taken from leftists and government opponents during the dictatorship.

As many as 30 000 “disappeared” - as the missing are known - are presumed to have been murdered during Argentina's “dirty war” against leftists.

In many instances, their children were taken by ruling families and raised as their own.

The Grandmothers group, which was founded in 1977, has managed through the years to locate scores of missing children, who now are adults.

Laura's son is the 111th child found that has been found so far.

Carlotto's life was immortalised in the 2011 film Verdades Verdaderas (Real Truths).

“We are thinking about Laura, my sister, and in the struggle of the Grandmothers,” said another brother, Remo Carlotto, who is now a federal lawmaker. - Sapa-AFP