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

Fiona Govan
Fiona Govan - [email protected]
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

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.


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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