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  • A man lights candles next to a portrait of Santiago Maldonado, whose body was found 78 days after he disappeared.

    A man lights candles next to a portrait of Santiago Maldonado, whose body was found 78 days after he disappeared. | Photo: Reuters

"He did not bother anyone, he never had problems with anything, he was connected to nature, and he never boasted of the causes he supported," one childhood friend told reporters at the wake.

The wake and funeral for Argentine artist and backpacker Santiago Maldonado, whose body was discovered in late October 78 days after he was seen surrendering to authorities at a Mapuche demonstration, are being held this weekend, with hundreds of people turning out in support.

RELATED: 
Argentinian Artist Santiago Maldonado 'Drowned’: Officials

The wake, held in Bueno Aires Saturday, was open to the public. Sunday's funeral will be kept private for close friends and family.

"He did not bother anyone, he never had problems with anything, he was connected to nature, and he never boasted of the causes he supported," one childhood friend told reporters at the wake.

People attend Maldonado's wake.

The young tattoo artist had also studied Fine Arts at the nearby National University of La Plata. There, a mural he had painted hangs close to where his wake was held.

Mourners attending the procession bore posters with slogans such as "Where is Santiago?", "Do not forget me" and "Truth and Justice". On the floor, the crowd formed a mosaic heart using photos of the 28-year-old traveller, who had spent seven months backpacking around his natve Argentina before he disappeared.

This week, the results of the autopsy were released, concluding that Maldonado drowned in the waters of the southern Chubut River in the South American country after surrendering to authorities at a Mapuche demonstration. His death, according to Judge Gustavo Leal, was caused by hypothermia as he "remained underwater."

Maldonado's family, meanwhile, is calling for the case to be investigated independently as a "forced disappearance followed by death." "We will continue demanding an impartial, independent and exhaustive investigation," they have said. 

RELATED: 
Maldonado Family Renews Demand for Independent Investigation

Maldonado disappeared on August 1 in Pu Lof, shortly after he was arrested during a demonstration in support of Argentina's Indigenous Mapuche community. His body was found in the Chubut River on October 19, caught in the branches of willow trees.

"From the depth of our pain as Santiago's parents to all Argentine citizens and to the world, we want to thank you for every word of encouragement, every letter, every hug; your tears reached our hearts," the Maldonado family said in their first statement after Santiago's body was found.


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