The 28-year-old activist has not been seen since being arrested during a crackdown by the National Police on a protest of the Mapuche community.
Divers from the Naval Prefecture found a body in Argentina’s Chubut River, a kilometer and a half of where Santiago Maldonado was last seen on Aug. 1.
Argentine officials and the Criminal Unit of the Federal Police will go to department of Cushamen to determine if the body is that of the missing activist, who has remained disappeared for 78 days.
The 28-year-old has not been seen since being arrested during a crackdown by the National Police during a protest by the Mapuche community in Chubut.
The police force sought to disperse a protest on ancestral lands given to the multinational company Benetton. Witnesses said they saw officers shove the 28-year-old into a van and drive away, but the government denies involvement.
The body, dressed in dark clothes, was found hooked on the branches of willows trees in the river.
The site is also being searched by the Criminal Intelligence Division of the Federal Police, a delegation from the Ministry of Justice and by the Human Rights Secretary, Claudio Avruj.
After the first police operation days after Maldonado’s disappearance, specialists from the Naval Prefecture ruled out a possible drowning due to the shallowness of the water.
According to the testimonies of the Mapuche community, Maldonado did not cross the river.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has convened a meeting of the Argentine government and the family of missing activist Santiago Maldonado for Oct. 26 in order to discuss the current investigation into his whereabouts.
On Aug. 23, the Washington-based IACHR urged Argentina to take “the necessary measures to determine the situation and whereabouts” of Maldonado as well as to report on the investigation of the facts.
The Maldonado family has not yet commented on the discovery of a body near the site of Maldonado’s disappearance but his brother has arrived to help identify the body. Authorities expect to have a definitive answer on the identity of the body discovered early tomorrow morning