BODY TO BE EXHUMED: An Argentine judge has ordered that the corpse of F1 legend Juan Manuel Fangio (above) may be exhumed in a paternity case. Image: Shutterstock / Joseph Sohm
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – The body of motorsport legend Juan Manuel Fangio will be exhumed as planned in a paternity case despite a suspension order made in the name of a rival claim, Argentine media reported on Thursday (July 16).
Today, July 17 2015, is the 20th anniversary of Fangio’s death.
"The exhumation will go ahead," Judge Rodrigo Cataldo was quoted as saying on the minutobalcarce website in Fangio's birthplace in Balcarce, Buenos Aires, where the five-times F1 champion is buried.
Cataldo had ordered a week earlier that the body be exhumed on August 7 and taken to the Atlantic coast resort city of Mar de Plata for DNA testing in a case brought in 2013 by Oscar 'Cacho' Espinosa who claims to be Fangio's son. However another man, one Ruben Vazquez, has an older paternity claim dating from 2008 and Judge Daniel Dipp of the provincial capital La Plata, who is handling his case, ordered the exhumation suspended.
Cataldo said: "Precautionary measures taken by one judge cannot prevent another measure requested by another judge from being carried out. Biological identity is a human right that cannot be blocked."
He was speaking on the eve of the 20th anniversary of Fangio’s death in 1995.
Fangio Foundation lawyers have asked Cataldo for the remains not to be moved to Mar del Plata and that the DNA samples be taken at the cemetery. The judge said he would decide on that request before the weekend.
Fangio, who won his five titles in the 1950's and died aged 84 on July 17, 1995, never married and, it was thought, had no children.
Espinosa, now 77 and also a former racing driver, said in an interview with the Buenos Aires Sports daily Ole in 2000 that Fangio had given him racing tips.
His mother Andrea Berruet had had a long relationship with Fangio until 1960 and Espinosa was reported to have provided, as proof of Fangio's paternity a bunch of letters the F1 champion wrote to Berruet asking about him.