Organ trafficking? Exhumation ordered in bid to solve 13-year mystery of Spaniard’s death in Sweden

A coroner has ordered the exhumation of a Spaniard from a cemetery in west London in a bid to finally resolve a 13-year mystery.

Organ trafficking? Exhumation ordered in bid to solve 13-year mystery of Spaniard’s death in Sweden
The body will be exhumed from its grave in Gunnersbury Cemetery. Photo: stevekeiretsu/CC/Flickr

In September 2005 the parents of Miguel Ángel Martínez received the phone call informing them of their son’s death.

They were told that their 44-year-old son, who had left his home town in the Basque Country six months earlier with €11,000 in his bank account and a plan to go Inter-railing around Europe, had been found dead.

His body had washed up in the Lidingö neighbourhood in Stockholm and the police report concluded that he had committed suicide by jumping from a ferry several weeks earlier, subsequently drowning.

Within two months his corpse was transported to London where Martinéz had expressed the wish to be buried alongside the love of his life; a girlfriend who had died young.

But once there, British pathologists reported that his body had been mutilated. His heart was missing, as was three quarters of his liver. Moreover, the British autopsy concluded that the deceased’s lungs showed none of the signs associated with drowning.

For more than a decade, the family has been battling for answers, for a proper investigation to clear up the contradictions and inconsistencies and discover what really happened to Martínez.

Now, after more than a decade of lobbying from the family, a London coroner has issued an order to exhume his remains from the cemetery in Gunnersbury and launch an investigation into his death.

“We don’t know if he was killed, who killed him, why they mutilated him,” his sister Blanca told El Pais, suggesting that he may have been a victim of organ trafficking.  “It’s hard to imagine a crueller hell.”

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Northern Spain ravaged by more than 100 fires

More than one hundred illegally started fires ravaged northern Spain on Friday, according to authorities, while blazes that raged for over a week in the country's east were under control.

Northern Spain ravaged by more than 100 fires

In total, 119 fires continued to rage on Friday afternoon in the region of Asturias and in neighbouring Cantabria, according to the authorities of the northern regions.

Of these fires, 91 were in Asturias.

At the worst point, there were 160 fires in the two mountainous regions known for their forests, which are vulnerable to forest fires, but authorities said were started by criminals.

“It’s a real terrorist attack. These are coordinated actions,” said Adrian Barbon, the regional president of Asturias on Twitter.

“Those who act like this don’t deserve any other name,” he told journalists.

Hundreds of people were evacuated and a number of roads were closed, authorities said.

During a visit to China, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Twitter that he had spoken to Barbon and expressed his “solidarity with the impacted families”.

In Castellon, in eastern Valencia, where a significant forest fire has blazed since March 23, firefighters had stabilised the fires by Friday, according to the emergency services.

Considered the first major fire of the year in Spain, a total of 4,700 hectares (11,600 acres) were ravaged, and 1,300 people were forced to evacuate, but they have now started to return to home.

Spain has faced a long drought after three years of inadequate rainfall.

Seasonal fires, until now generally limited to summer, are set to become a feature of spring and autumn as a result of climate change, authorities warn.

Europe was ravaged by forest fires in 2022, and Spain was the worst affected country with close to 500 blazes which destroyed more than 300,000 hectares, according to the European Forest Fire Information System.