Teenager, 19, who claims he is one of Diego Maradona’s ‘six undeclared lovechildren’ demands the football great’s body be DUG UP for DNA tests less than 24 hours after football legend was laid to rest
- Santiago Lara, 19, told lawyer to make appeal less than 24 hours after the burial
- Lawyer Jose Nunez went on Argentinian TV show Suelta la Sopa to air demand
- It follows battle by Santiago, which began in 2014, to find real father’s identity
- Diego has recognised two sons and three daughters by four women as his own
A teenager who claims he is Diego Maradona’s lovechild has demanded the football great’s body be drug up for DNA tests to prove his case.
Santiago Lara, 19, instructed his lawyer to make the appeal less than 24 hours after the Naples and Barcelona star was buried.
Jose Nunez lodged a written request with a family court in Santiago’s home city of La Plata, an hour’s drive south of Buenos Aires, demanding Maradona’s autopsy, DNA results and the exhumation of his body so it can be transferred to a court morgue.
The development emerged overnight after Mr Nunez went on Argentinian TV to air his demand. It follows a lengthy battle by Santiago, which began in 2014 when he was just 13, to find out the identity of his real father.
Santiago Lara (pictured right), 19, instructed his lawyer to make the appeal less than 24 hours after Naples and Barcelona star Diego Maradona (left, in 1978) was buried
Santiago, the supposed sixth child of a growing group of offspring, which Diego’s daughter previously joked he could make up a starting eleven, spoke of the claims for the first time four years ago.
The teenager’s mother, waitress Natalia Garat, died aged 23 from lung cancer in 2006 following an alleged seven year on-off relationship with Diego, who officially has five children including two he took years to recognise as his.
Natalia’s ex-boyfriend, Marcelo Lara, raised Santiago as his own son.
The teenager instructed his lawyer to start legal action to prove he was Maradona’s son while the retired footballer was alive after failed attempts to reach an amicable settlement with the star’s legal team.
Speaking overnight after Mr Nunez confirmed the sensational exhumation demand, Santiago told Telemundo programme Suelta la Sopa: ‘My mum sadly died when I was just three years old but days before her death, when she had to remove her ventilator to speak, she told a group of lawyers I was Diego’s son.
‘I just want to know who I am. The financial side of things is not something that matters to me.
‘I know this demand is going to cause major turmoil in Argentina but if I don’t do this, who is going to give me the DNA?’
His lawyer, in another interview on an Argentinian TV show which he attended with a colleague but not Santiago, added: ‘We’re talking about a young lad who has been left in the dark about who he really is.
An Argentine football team are pictured paying tribute to the coffin of Argentinian football legend Maradona at the burning chapel in Casa Rosada presidential palace in Buenos Aires
Handout photo released on November 26 by Argentine Presidency press office showing the coffin of Maradona at Casa Rosada, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The coffin of Maradona is carried by his family and friends at the Jardin Bella Vista cemetery in Buenos Aires province on November 26
‘Santiago didn’t come here today because he’s suffering emotionally. Not only does he not know who he is but he couldn’t say goodbye to his father.’
The four-page document filed by Mr Nunez and his business partner, Juan Benitez, demands the exhumation and preservation of Diego Maradona’s body until DNA tests can be carried out ‘so Santiago Lara can obtain his true identity.’
It says the teenager found out about the former footballer’s death through the media and it caused him ‘great pain, worry, suffering and anguish.’
Who are Maradona’s recognised children and who are the rumoured offspring?
- Diego Junior, 34
- Jana, 23
- Dalma, 32
- Gianinna, 30
- Diego Fernando, seven
- ‘The Cuban trio’ – Joana, Lu and Javielito
- Magali Gil, 23
- Santiago Lara, 19
The document, submitted to La Plata Family Court Number Seven, adds on the third of the four pages: ‘We ask you to submit through the chain of custody, the detailed results of the autopsy and lifeless body of Diego Armando Maradona.
‘We request the sealing of the coffin containing Diego Armando Maradona’s body so it can be transferred to La Plata’s judicial morgue for its preservation.
‘We ask that Jardin Bella Vista Cemetery receive the order to exhume the remains of Diego Armando Maradona so they can also be transferred to the same morgue.’
Santiago, the spitting image of Maradona when he was younger with his long mop of curly hair, spoke for the first time in September 2016 about his predicament.
He said: ‘My dad is always going to be Marcelo Lara but what I’ve been told is that my real father is supposedly Diego Maradona.
‘I think I look like him, the face, the curls, everything. I look at Marcelo and I know we’re not alike. It’s not easy to wake up in the morning with that feeling.’
Santiago told local media in a video interview he learned Maradona was his alleged father when he was 13. ‘I found out after I went past a newspaper stand near my house and saw a magazine front cover with Maradona’s face on it and mine pixelated underneath,’ he said.
‘I was left in a state of shock because I didn’t know what I was doing in the magazine. I went running home and asked Marcelo what was going on and he explained everything.
‘He told me my mum was well-known on the modelling circuit when she was younger and he told me he had the feeling I wasn’t his son.
‘He told me a DNA test was asked for but was never forthcoming.’ Late last month, around the time of Diego’s 60th birthday, Santiago and his lawyer revealed they had initiated legal action to try to prove the family link.
Maradona also had two daughters by his ex-wife, 32-year-old Dalma and 30-year-old Gianinna, and a seven-year-old son called Diego Fernando by former girlfriend Veronica Ojeda
Mr Nunez said he had gone down the court route because of ‘radio silence’ from Maradona’s lawyer Matias Morla following an ‘encouraging’ initial dialogue when they were given the impression the soccer legend would agree to a DNA test voluntarily.
Diego recognised two sons and three daughters by four different women including his ex-wife Claudia Villafane and former long-term partner Veronica Ojeda as his own.
Giannina Maradona, one of the footballer’s two daughters by Villafane, joked last year after the names of three children said to be his in Cuba were made public: ‘Just three more needed for the team of 11. You can do it!!!’
A 24-year-old brunette called Magali Gil emerged as the latest possible member of Maradona’s ever-growing brood in October last year.
Popular Argentinian TV programme, Intrusos, said Ms Gil had a young daughter which would have made the former Naples and Barcelona star a grandfather if he was confirmed as her father. She has also given birth to another child.
In October last year a 23-year-old brunette called Magali Gil (pictured) emerged as the latest possible member of Maradona’s brood
Maradona had recognised two sons and three daughters by four different women, including his ex-wife Claudia Villafane (pictured together) and former long-term partner Veronica Ojeda
She is understood to have launched legal proceedings in April last year to try to prove her blood link.
Maradona’s lawyer, Matias Morla, said months before the star’s untimely death the retired footballer would assume his responsibilities as Santiago’s father if the blood link was confirmed.
Morla has previously been quoted as saying ‘everyone knows that in Argentina there’s Santiago and another person that people are talking about’, although other media in the South American country have speculated the 11th child that would make up Diego’s football team is a fourth Cuban.
The Cuban trio whose names have already been made public are Joana, Lu and Javielito, and they were born after Maradona moved to the Caribbean island in February 2000 to fight drink and drug addictions.
Maradona’s lawyer Matias Morla (pictured) said months before the footballer’s death he would assume his responsibilities as Santiago’s father if the blood link was confirmed
Mr Morla, who admitted in October 2018 the ex-footballer had been ‘naughty’ in Cuba and confessed there were ‘going to be a lot of Maradonas’ has confirmed the trio met him during the funeral of Fidel Castro.
Over recent years Maradona had recognised his 34-year-old son Diego Junior, born from an extra-marital affair with Italian model Cristina Sinagra, and 24-year-old Jana who met her father for the first time nearly six years ago following a court fight by her mother Valeria Sabalain.
Maradona also had two daughters by his ex-wife, 33-year-old Dalma and 31-year-old Giannina, and a seven-year-old son called Diego Fernando by former girlfriend Veronica Ojeda.
Giannina Maradona, one of the former footballer’s two daughters by Villafane, joked last year after the names of three children said to be his in Cuba were made public: ‘Just three more needed for the team of 11. You can do it!!!’
Dalma, Giannina and Jana were pallbearers at Diego’s funeral on Thursday at private cemetery Jardin Bella Vista on the north-west outskirts of Buenos Aires.
Italy-based Diego Junior was prevented from attending after being hospitalised with coronavirus.
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