In the latest stop of the Notable Dead Summer Exhumation Tour 2010, Romanian scientists disinterred the remains of former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, from a military cemetery in Bucharest to take DNA samples and verify their identities.
The couple were executed by a firing squad on Christmas Day 1989, after a summary trial. The uncertainty about the actual location of the bodies is due to the fact that the execution was not filmed, only the trial and the bullet-riddled bodies afterwards. The burial location was also kept secret.
The campaign to establish the identities of the corpses was initiated by the dictator’s daughter Zoia, who died in 2006, and carried on by her brother Valentin. DNA analysis is expected to take months.
On July 16th, the Notable Dead Summer Exhumation Tour visited Caracas, Venezuela. Most historian have accepted that Simón Bolivar, the 19th century hero of South American independence movements died of tuberculosis in 1830, and that his body was interred in the Venezuelan national pantheon in Caracas in 1876. But acting on personal suspicion that his idol had been assassinated by poison and buried elsewhere, President Hugo Chavez ordered a controversial exhumation.
Venezuelan television showed live pictures of a team of scientists with gas masks opening the coffin and displaying the remains of Bolivar. A team of fifty forensic specialists will carry-out tests on the well-preserved corpse.
Chavez opponents have dubbed the exhumation a political stunt to distract the people from rising inflation, crime, corruption and government seizures of private companies.
On July 5th, the Notable Dead Summer Exhumation Tour 2010 kicked-off when the authorities in Iceland disinterred the remains of chess legend Bobby Fischer in order to carry out a DNA paternity test to settle Fischer’s estate. Iceland’s Supreme Court approved the exhumation to establish if the unbalance chess prodigy was the father of a 9 year old girl from the Philippines, as her mother claims.
Fischer’s estate, estimated to be worth over $2 million, is contested by his two American nephews, Myoko Watai of Japan, who claims to be his wife, by the US government to whom he owed back taxes, and by Marilyn Young of the Philippines.
In 2005, Iceland came to Fischer’s rescue by granting him citizenship and asylum to help him avoid arrest by the US government on passport violation charges. Fischer had made history in 1972 by defeating Soviet chess champ Boris Spassky in a “Cold War” showdown in Reykjavik that put Iceland on the tourist map.