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Experts cast doubt on Bergman DNA claims

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Experts cast doubt on Bergman DNA claims
10:38 CEST+02:00
The Swedish experts who carried out the DNA tests used as a basis for the claim that deceased film director Ingmar Bergman was switched at birth, have disputed the conclusions, according to a report in the Ny Teknik weekly.

The news that famed Swedish director Ingmar Bergman was not his mother's biological son caused a storm of worldwide media interest when the results of an investigation by his niece was published.

The DNA tests carried out on two stamps were claimed to show that Ingmar Bergman was not related to his niece Veronica Ralston, and thus could not have been Karin Bergman's biological son.

However the experts who carried out the tests on the saliva on the stamps have now disputed the conclusion that their results can be interpreted to conclude that Ingmar Bergman was born to another mother.

"One can't be certain that the saliva on the stamp was Ingmar Bergman's," said Gunilla Holmlund at the National Board of Forensic Medicine (Rättsmedicinalverket), which conducted the analysis on behalf of Veronica Ralston.

The authority has conducted a so-called mitochondrial analysis which shows related links to the mother. The test shows that Veronica Ralston and the person who licked the stamps had different mitochondrial DNA.

"There were such significant differences that they couldn't be related," Gunilla Holmberg told nyteknik.se.

The DNA tests were carried out on two stamps - one from 1935 and one from 1951 - but the older stamp was subsequently deemed unsuitable.

Ralston's sensational revelations are presented in "Kärleksbarnet och bort­bytingen" ('The love child and the changeling') and stem from an investigation she carried out after reading a book by author Louise Tillberg published last year.

In her book, Tillberg argued that her father and uncle were siblings of Ingmar Bergman born to Hedvig Tillberg (nee Sjöberg).

Ralston offers an explanation of what may have happened in her book.

"When my grandmother Karin Berman gave birth to her son on July 14th, 1918, she had been very sick for a long period of time and it's possible the baby didn't survive," she claimed.

"I haven't checked with the hospital in Uppsala if there are any records of a stillborn baby, so that is just speculation. But I think that is exactly what happened and that her husband Erik then switched the child with a baby that Hedvig Sjöberg had previously given birth to in Stockholm."

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