Several children listed as missing during Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war were sold in illegal adoptions, the country's social welfare agency records revealed.
The director of the government's Peace Archive, Marco Tulio Alvarez, told a press conference in Guatemala City on Monday that during the analysis the archive, officials found a series of irregularities that prove the disappearance of children between 1986 and 1987.
"In the analysis carried out, patterns of activity can be established that show the ease with which the adoption procedures were handled to hide the violation of rights of Guatemalan children through forced disappearance," he said.
Alvarez did not rule out that members of Guatemala's police and armed forces could be implicated in the selling of the children.
He said that during the civil war, the children of people "disappeared" by the security forces were sent to government-run orphanages, and that some of those youngsters were then sold to adoptive parents.
"In these cases, many human rights of the children were violated" and all the indications found so far "make one think that the business was very profitable", Alvarez said.
He said that the investigation was part of the efforts of the government and human rights organisations to explain to the relatives of the victims what occurred during the armed conflict and thereby to reconstruct the country's historical memory.
According to a post-war truth commission, the internal conflict left some 200,000 dead, most of them Indian peasants slain by the security forces and their paramilitary allies.
The director of the Peace Archive said that the efforts being made to reconstruct the country's historical memory "is not political revanchism or vengeance", but rather "an indispensable component to guarantee national conciliation and peace and so that the deeds that bled Guatemalan society are not repeated".
Alvarez announced that when the analysis of the welfare agency's files is completed, he will submit a report to the public prosecutor's office.