11.          Case 2735 – David Horacio VARSAVSKY

          The IACHR received the following denunciation:

         David Horacio VARSAVSKY, C.I. 6.879, 027, DNI 12.549.136, Maure 2239 6p. A, Federal Capital, an Argentine citizen, 18 years of age (9.18.58), single, a student with secondary school training as an electronic technician; he was preparing to enroll in the school of engineering. He worked on radio and television repair. At 9 o’clock on 2.17.77, he was to be inducted into military service.

         At 1.30 pm on 2.16.77, four armed civilians and one person in uniform came to his home identifying themselves as the police. After searching the house, they took David Varsavsky with them. When they were asked why, they replied it was “routine” and that they were taking him in for interrogation. They took along a photograph of him. When they were asked where they were taking him, they answered that I should go to look for him at the Dorrego y Baez command post at 9 o’clock with identification.

         When I went to the place indicated, I found that it was a military post, and I was informed that there were no detainees there. After taking down my identification, they told me that I should go to the Ministry of the Interior. I went to all the military posts throughout the region asking for the same information and obtained the same results.

         In a note of June 16, 1978, the Government replied:

C.        Persons who are not recorded as detained who are the subject of a police search by the Ministry of the Interior.

VARSAVSKY, David Horacio.

          In a note dated November 26, 1979, the Argentine Government responded to the Commission as follows:

         References made to the pertinent part of the denunciation stating that on 2.16.1977, at 1.30 hours, four armed civilians and one person in uniform, who identified themselves as the police, proceeded to take away the above-mentioned person. When they were questioned about their conduct, they said that it was “routine”, that they were taking him for interrogation, and that his family could visit him at the Dorrego y Baez command post at 9 o’clock, with identification. Upon arriving there, it was found to be a military post, and it was stated that there were no detained persons there.

         On February 17, 1977, cognizance was taken of the event described, because of a presentation made by the alleged detainee’s mother. Reports were immediately requested from the federal Police and the Commander in Chief of the Army, who replied that Varsavsky was not being detained in either of their jurisdictions, nor was there any information about his whereabouts, and the complainant was so informed.

         In addition, the federal Police reported that four writs of habeas corpus had been filed with it, and that a warrant for his arrest had been issued by federal Court Nº 6, Military Law Section, for violation of Article 44 of Law 17.531 (compulsory military service). The federal lower Criminal Court, Nº 2, Department 107, also requested information on his whereabouts, in case Nº 45.181, regarding illegitimate deprivation of liberty.

           Likewise, the judge in charge of the criminal Division of the federal lower Court also requested information on his whereabouts, in case No. 45.181, regarding illegitimae deprivation of liberty.

          The IACHR is continuing prescribed procedures in this case. It finds however, that the government’s reply does not contain evidence to discredit the denunciation.

13.          The following cases represent the most common situation: persons apprehended at night or in the early morning from their own homes by members of the security forces.

          Some examples are the following:

        14.        Case 2274 – TARNOPOLSKY Family

          The IACHR received the following denunciation:

         On July 15, 1976, at approximately 2 am, armed individuals, identifying themselves as police officers, came to the home of Rosa Daneman de Edelberg, at 3475 Sarmiento Street, 5th floor, Apartament J, Buenos Aires. As she went to answer the door, she heard the voice of the owner’s son-in-law say “Open the door, it’s Hugo”. The men who were dressed in civilian clothing immediately asked for Bettina Tarnopolsky, 16 of age, who was living temporarily in the apartment. They locked up Mrs. Edelberg on the patio, from where she heard Bettina’s screams. Once the “police” left, she found that her granddaughter and son-in-law were no longer there, and objects of value, cash and the identity card of the owner of the house had disappeared also. The entire apartment had been searched and the telephone disconnected.

         The woman went with her son several hours later to the Tarnopolsky home, located at 2600 Peña Street, Buenos Aires. The outside door was entirely destroyed by explosives. No member of the family was there, and objects of value were missing. Eyewitnesses said that armed civilians, who called themselves “federal police”, had been there some hours before, and that, after the house had been pointed out to them, they proceeded to destroy the entrance with explosives. Later the witnesses saw Blanca Edelberg the Tarnopolsky and Hugo Tarnopolsky come out in their night clothes.

         Sergio Tarnopolsky was completing his military service assigned to the Navy Mechanics School. On July 4th, he telephoned members of his family to report that he was “confined to barracks.” On July 17th, when inquiries were made at the military post, the answer was that they knew nothing about him.

         That same night, Sergio’s wife, Laura del Duca de Tarnopolsky, residing at 1335 Pasaje Urutay, was detained.

         Hugo Tarnopolsky is an industrial chemist. Blanca Edelberg de Tarnopolsky is a professor of pedagogy; Bettina Tarnopolsky, 16 years old, is a high school student. Sergio Tarnopolsky, 21 years old, is a student of psychology, married to Laura del Luca de Tarnopolsky.

         In a note of September 29, 1977, the Government replied:

D. Persons with no record of arrest, who are being searched for by the police of the Ministry of the Interior:



145. TARNOPOLSKY, Bettina


147. TARNOPOLSKY, Sergio

          The Argentine Government, in response to the Commission’s April 3rd request for information, responded by a note received March 27, 1980, in which it denied participation in the alleged acts, and stated as follows:

         Originally, the events were reported to the Argentine authorities as having been caused by persons who, invoking some official authority, deprived the missing persons of their freedom. The Investigations were conducted based on that assumption. However, the claimants no longer insist on that story; they now refer to the events as simple disappearances. The same holds true for the additional information submitted.

         None of this is a basis for disregarding that the case as a whole involves voluntary acts of the alleged victims, which is not inconsistent with the presence of third parties, who might have acted as accomplices. This is based on the fact that Bettina Tarnopolsky’s father accompanied these persons and provided access to the dwelling where his daughter was.

         In addition, it has been determined by statements of the brother of Blanca Edelberg de Tarnopolsky that another son, named Daniel, left the country when he learned that his parents had disappeared, and has settled in France.

          The Commission is continuing to process this case. In the Commission’s judgment the government’s reply does not discredit the facts denounced.

          15.          Case 2662 – Alberto Samuel FALICOFF

          The Commission heard public testimony from the wife of Dr. Falicoff, denouncing the detention, imprisonment and torture of Mr. Falicoff by the security forces. The arrest took place in his residence, in the presence of his wife, who was also detained and later released. Mrs. Falicoff signed the testimony.

Doctor Falicoff, a physician, was practicing in the Cordoba Children's Hospital and was a member of the Medical Association of that city.

The Commission considers pertinent the complete transcription of Mrs Falicoff's testimony:

         On Thursday, November 25, 1976, at 18 hours, the bell rang in the apartment where I lived with my husband, Dr. Alberto Samuel Falicoff and my son, Alfredo Falicoff, who was then two years of age. I saw through the peephole four men in civilian clothes standing against the wall. When they realized I was there, they knocked on the door, and told me to open it or they would shoot. Since the baby was sitting watching television in line with the door, I opened it. They quickly entered and grabbed me by the arms. I was frightened and screamed. They said, “Keep quiet, for the baby’s sake” and asked me where my husband was. I replied that he worked at the Clinic. Then they began to search the house, locking me and my son in his room. They searched the living room and dining room, dismantled the stove and the Venetian blinds, and removed the pictures from the walls. I saw this being done because the baby asked to go to the bathroom and they let me take him. After half an hour, they ordered me to prepare the baby’s supper. They were courteous to me and told me they knew that I had done nothing. They said they had come looking for my husband. After a while, they brought the janitor in and locked him in the apartment also. They said they had done this to keep him from warning my husband. They did the same thing with a neighbor, who came in because he thought that thieves had broken in. The janitor, who was a very old man, was very frightened. My husband arrived at about 2 o’clock and unlocked the door with his keys. When they heard the elevator, they again sent me to my son’s room. They immediately locked themselves up with my husband in our room and I began to hear the sounds of a struggle, pushing and blows. Later, an officer of the Army Intelligence Service arrived along with another officer.

         They were all well dressed, in suits and ties and carrying a walkie talkie. They came in and out quietly and, on one occasion, brought sweets and toys for the baby, who behaved very well with them because they let him touch their revolvers. They told me to prepare clothing for the baby, since they had decided to take me with them. I asked them to let him say goodbye to his father and they did so. I then saw my husband with this hands tied with a cable. I explained to the child that they were going to take him to his grandmother’s house and I begged them to do so. I gave them the address of my mother in El Chaco and her telephone number. Then they took us away. They took the money we had in our pockets and any jewelry they found. They said that if I was taking any medicine to bring it with me, and I did so. I went down in the elevator with my husband and three of them. They put sunglasses on me with paper pasted on the inside of the lenses. My husband’s hands were tied. It was 2130 hours. They took us in separate cars. I was taken in a bright yellow car. I sat in the back of the car with one of them. The ones in the front seat had not entered the apartment. They asked, quietly, why my hands were not tied. The one in the back answered: “That’s no problem.” While we were driving down the first streets, I tried to see the road; from Patricios, we turned on Martín García and then on Almirante Brown. Then they realized I was watching the road, so they pressed my head down on the legs of the one alongside me, and pointed a revolver at me. After traveling at high speed for about 20 minutes, we arrived at our destination. The car stopped and they made me get out and walk about 30 meters. Others came and asked why they did not bring the car in. They answered the lights weren’t working and that the high beams were on and they were not going to enter with the high beams on. We entered a building with a very large door (a garage door, or perhaps, much bigger). From the little I was able to see, there was a very large room with no one in it.  They took me down a spiral staircase to a basement. There they told me to close my eyes and they put a very tight blindfold, with elastic in the back, on me, which immediately gave me an intense headache. They handcuffed me and shackled my feet together by a chain with padlocks on both shackles. They were very tight and had sharp edges. Then they took me to a kind of cell. The place was full of these cells. In other words, they were small rooms made of pressed board or cardboard, with chairs and a small desk in them. They left me there for a while, and I could hear that they were interrogating my husband in the cell on one side, but I could not hear what they were saying.

         The interrogation and the detention: I was soon taken to another room much further away, and they told me to remember that my number was 103. After half an hour, someone entered and asked me whether I was going to say anything or whether I preferred to have them take me in. I said that I knew absolutely nothing. They began by asking me my name, I.D. number, the name of my parents, brothers, and my husband, his parents and brothers, and the date and place of my birth. They left and after a while they returned and asked me to tell them what my husband was doing in Córdoba. I answered that, because of his work as a physician, he had been in contact with patients whose parents were prisoners, and a short while ago, they had begun to ask him to help them with money, samples of milk, etc. and I knew that he had only done that because he always brought home cans of milk, used clothing, books and other food for the prison. Then we decided to move to Buenos Aires. At that point in the interrogation, other persons entered. They attached no importance to me, and all of them left. I began to feel totally exhausted and I slept sitting up. When they returned, they asked me again for my I.D. number. I actually couldn’t remember because I felt so exhausted and I told them so. Then they left. After a while, I began to hear, coming through one of the walls of pressed board, the sound of a lot of running water, and then the cries of my husband insulting them and repeatedly calling them “murderers”. This is repeated approximately every hour, or perhaps less. Obviously the torture room is next door. On the following day—I guess—they took me out and led me to a corridor on the same floor. My legs are so swollen that the shackles begin to cut into my skin. A nurse came who loosens the shackles and put cotton around my legs. A guard asked him “Why are you doing that?” and the nurse replied “So… we don’t have to treat her afterwards”. He asked me why, I, a doctor, had gotten into this, and he said he didn’t understand how, with all the money we could earn, we had ended up here. He added that if I needed anything to ask to speak with Pedro, the nurse, since there were other Pedros there. There were chairs against the wall on each side, in the passageway, very close to each other. They told me to close my eyes. Then they took the mask off and ordered me to open my eyes. I could not see anything because they were taking photographs and the flashbulbs blinded me. One of the ones who had been to my house approached me and put a hood of thick white clothe over my head. He explained that with that hood they would not bother me. That was because they were taking people to the torture room according to the order of their chairs. I could see that, because the door was nearby and every time they took someone out, the noise of running water and the desperate screams of pain could be heard, despite the fact that a record player was constantly playing very loud music. There were certain songs that they played more frequently, and despite the fact that the tapes were worn, I could her the lyrics which went roughly: “and now what are they? Where are they? What are their ideals?” etc. He wonders why my legs were so swollen. I said that I had a weak heart and therefore bad circulation. They put another chair in front of me to put my legs up on. One asked me if I recognized his voice, and I said he was one of the ones who had been at my home. I asked for my child and he said “Relax, we have notified your family and they are coming to get him.” Afterwards I noticed that they brought my husband to the chair alongside me, because I recognized his pants and shoes. During the entire time I was there, I heard the same sound; the loud record player, screams of pain, running water. The guards wore rubber boots. I suppose a spent an entire day and night there because the music was interrupted twice when they brought food to the guards and their superiors. They drank a lot of wine asking the guards to bring more. I could smell the wine. The Chief came and asked how things were going. They answered that three persons had died, two men and one woman. The Chief told them to be more careful because that was too many for one day. That day they took my husband away a number of times, and I recognized his screams. Twice I heard his difficult breathing and it sounded as thought he had swallowed his tongue. The music stopped and an urgent call for the doctor came over the loudspeaker. I heard people running, and I heard the doctor say, if they wanted him alive, that was enough for now, and not to go further. Then they took me to one of the rooms. This time they took off the hood, and I saw that several of the ones who had been to my apartment were there along with one I did not know. They now spoke harshly to me and again asked me for information. A torturer entered wearing jeans, a red jacket and rubber boots. He was blond, with a red face, and the told them “I will give to her”. To me he said: “All right, I’m in a hurry, tell me whether you know anything, or I will give you the 6 pointed cattle prod.” The others wanted to hurry me. I cried and said I was telling the truth; I knew nothing; I was not a militant; and since I did not like such things I consciously knew nothing about them. They asked me what money we were living on, and I told him ours. They took me again to the corridor. After several hours, they made many of the people line up, each with his hands on the shoulders of the person in front of him. There were probably about ten of us, and they made us walk, climb stairs, and then take an elevator. We probably went up about five floors, and there they made us squat down and told us to stretch out on a mattress. Alongside of me there was a man who did not comply well, and they kicked and punched him for about an hour. I immediately fell into a deep sleep. I was completely exhausted, and I no longer cared what happened to me. I was so exhausted that, while they were taking me there they pawed me and I wasn’t even startled. When I awoke they served sandwiches. They made me sit up, but I could eat only a few mouthfuls. I continued to sleep, I believe, the entire day, I cannot be sure. I woke up in the morning and they were distributing a little food to each person in turn. I felt rested, and tried to find out what was going on. I heard those with me calling the guard to go to the bathroom. I did the same thing. Soon one of them made me stand up, and I hit my head on a beam. I realized that the roof was very low. In the bathroom, the guard took off my hood. He asked me how old I was, whether I was married, and whether I had any children. He was a kid about 17 years old. He was very kind to me and told me to read what was written on my hood. The words “possible release” were written on the cloth in thread. I asked what it meant, and he told me they were going to release me. I asked him why I was there, and he said it was a mistake. His only job was to see that the prisoners did not speak, did not take off their hoods, and those who did so, he could beat at will until he knocked them out. He and the others were taught karate and self-defense. They were made to read books like Papillon and to hate the prisoners, about whom the only thing they knew was that they “are enemies of the country, who want to destroy it, by destroying the army.” They were kids 15 to 20 years old. Sometimes they were called kids, but usually they were called by their first names. At night they were given bottles of wine, and then they became very violent. This guard told me that some of them were taken on raids, and sometimes they were given special commendation or merit awards. They were very proud of that. For example, he told me that the previous day he had been assigned to go to a house that someone had denounced. It answered the description, and when the owners tried to escape, they had to shoot them: a young woman with a child two or three years old. Later they learned that the people were not involved. He had felt bad about that, but the persons who denounced innocent people were to blame. He took me to my place again, and there I continued to spy. I could see that it was a large “L” shaped room. It was of makeshift construction on the terrace of the building, since the outer walls were only one meter high. A peaked roof came down to there. Its highest part was in the middle of the room, which is where the guards go. In the angle of the “L” there is a large table where they eat and a medicine chest and a small file. We were on both sides in sort of pressed board cubicles about 1 meter high. The cubicles where I was were makeshift so I was able to move them carefully. The rectangle was made up of four separate “L” shaped parts. I think that this detail is very important because of what I am going to tell further on. That day I realized that they brought someone to the cubicle on my left, and I heard him barely complain, as though he were very ill. I thought it was my husband. So I moved over, displaced one of the walls and changed position (we were laying on the floor on a mattress and a blanket. That is all we had). I managed to see my husband, shirtless, with marks everywhere from the cattle prod. I realized that he had no more than two centimeters in a row of unmarked skin. He breathes heavily and asks for “water, water”, but his voice is very weak and it is hard for him to move his tongue so the words do not come out. A guard came, and told him not to bother them, that they could not give him water because if they did he would die. They sat us down and gave us a sandwich and a small bottle of water and a cup of broth. I hid the small bottle and, when they came back to take it away, they did not realize it was missing. Then, carefully watching out for the guards, I put my hands through into my husband’s cubicle and was able to touch him. I felt that he had a fever. He tried to touch my hands. Then I passed the water to him and he drank it all. The same thing happened the next day. A few days later, they let him eat and gave him water. Little by little he began to recover. Once when the guards were not watching, we spoke a little. He told me he had gone out in a car with them, telling him that he was going to take them to a rendezvous near the Italian Hospital. When they were not paying attention, he jumped out of the car and a bus ran over his body. He succeeded in yelling his name so that people could notify his family. They immediately put him back into the car and when they brought him back they tortured him more than ever. He tried to encourage me and told me that he was very proud of me. Every day of the month I spent there was the same, stretched out on the mattress and constantly shackled. Sometimes they took the handcuffs off for a few days, and they took the hood off permanently. The electric light was always on and the music was always playing loudly. Once a day, after much begging, they took me to the bathroom. On three occasions, I was able to take a bath and change into clothing they gave me. While I did so, the guards would open the door whenever they wished. I had to undress, bathe and dress again in three minutes. For the bath they took off our handcuffs, chain and shackles. Meals were always the same: in the morning, a cup of stew, at noon a meat sandwich and sometimes a cup of broth, and at night the same. On some days, one or two meals were omitted. I don’t know exactly how many people were there, but I estimate that there were about 50. The pregnant women—and there were many of them—were given special meals; in the morning coffee with milk, at noon and at night, meat with mashed potatoes, and in the evening coffee with milk. Sometimes they were given vitamins. Every day the guards punished two or three persons. They did so for any reason: because they removed their hoods while they were sleeping, because they were not lying right; because the guards suspected them of spying; or for any other reason. The punishment consisted of kicks and punches for hours until they were left unconscious. The panic is constant. Only once was the situation reversed: the lights went out and the guards were frightened and rushed out. Then they realized how ridiculously they were behaving and then returned, with their weapons in their hands, saying: “Everybody quiet, don’t move”; but even their voices were trembling. Another time, the lights went out—it must have been about December 20th—and we could hear troops marching past. In the first days they called roll, asking for the name and number of each person. My husband was on one side of me, with the number 104. I was number 103; at my other side was number 102, a lawyer whom they had taken from his office in the Palermo area the same day they took us. I could see him as well as I could see my husband: he was olive-skinned, had black wavy hair and a beard and was of average build. He wore a mask. Later I overhead that he was a veterinarian, and that his sister, a teacher who had been brought in a month before, had—according to what I’ve heard—recently married a widower with children. They were going to hold her until her brother appeared and she did not know where they were. They took her from the room a few days before I left, and I suppose they released her. They called one of the prisoners “peg-leg”. He was very near me, and by his voice seemed to be an older person and very weak. One night the guards got drunk and began to bet that they could make him stand on his peg leg. They brought him into the middle of the room and ordered him to do it. He begged them, said it was impossible, that he was going to fall. Then they began to kick him, punch him, and they stood him up. Of course, he fell. They stood him up again, he fell again, and so on, throughout the night. It was a most macabre spectacle. The guards went crazy, they beat him without interruption and the poor man was begging them to stop. There was the sound of blows to the lungs, the abdomen, the noise of broken bones. They stopped when he fell unconscious. Afterwards he was delirious for two or three days until they called the doctor. The doctor said he had many broken bones and ordered him to be taken away. I didn’t hear him again. In early December, a transfer occurred. Apparently they were taking away those who had been there the longest; however, they included among them the lawyer who was next to me; in all, some 40 persons. They adjusted the handcuffs, the shackles and the hoods. They assembled them together, were taking them out when the noise of an airplane was heard that seemed to be landing nearby. (I shall explain that the sound of airplanes was very frequent. I also heard a train, and a helicopter, two or three times every day). After a time, the sound of an airplane was heard again, then nothing more. I guard asked another where they were being taken, and he answered: “Fish food”. There were very few people left in the room, and they changed our places. Fortunately, my husband and I continued to be next to each other with the same consecutive numbers. But I shall explain that there were three or four with the number 100, others with 400, 700, 900, etc. On the following day, they began to bring in a large number of new people and this continued for successive days, until they had to put us on the floor, in the guard’s passageway. Many of them were taken out at night and were ordered to get dressed. Apparently they were released. Also, when it rained very hard, (I heard the rain in spite of the noise because the roof was over our heads) they took out people to release them. They were careful to have the people well dressed and, in the case of women, to tie them up as much as possible. I could not see my husband now, nor speak to him because my new cubicle was completely made of wood. However, he made friends with an occasional guard—that is, one who did not work there but came to fill in because many of them were on vacation. The boy was really very good, and taking a risk himself, he took us to the bathroom and let us speak to each other without hoods. Of course he was present, so that we could only speak about ourselves. My husband had a very small hematoma but the doctor said that the dislocation was not going to be set because a general anesthesia would be needed to relax the muscles and that could not be done there. To do that he would have to be transferred, and transfer was impossible. He explained that the nurse came by every two or three days, but never touched anyone; however, they usually gave some medicine, mostly laxatives, antispasmodics and eye drops, because we all had conjunctivitis because of the hood and the mask. The guards had the eye drops; sometimes when somebody said that he needed them, the guard himself inserted the drops. I began to feel bad. I had nightmares about my son every night because despite their having told me that my parents had him, I did not believe them. All of this was due to the fact that they had taken off the white hood and given me a gray one like all the others. Also, because of the time that had elapsed. I realized that there was very little possibility that they would release me, because the ones they released only stayed a very short time. I mentioned this to my husband, and he always tried to encourage me. I spent the day thinking about how to get out, I began by trying to get to know the place, telling the guard who took me to the bathroom that with the little water they gave us we were dying of thirst (which was true) and I offered to carry the bottles as often as necessary and to do any kind of work, cleaning, etc. I said that from lying down so much I was beginning to feel weak, and I was afraid that I would not be able to walk when they took me to my house the following week (that was pure fabrication). The guard began to take me to wash the dishes, to the bathroom, to clean up the bathrooms. Some of the trays and dishes had the seal of the Argentine Army. So the days passed. There were no windows in the bathroom, but there was a door locked with a key, which was the guard’s closet. I found it opened one day, and I saw the guard’s civilian clothing and that the closet had a window covered with a blanket. I lifted the blanket, and saw thick grass and a heavy metal screen outside of it. I could see many tall trees, and at the end, high woven wire, a pick-up truck and a kind of garage. It would be possible to escape by breaking the window and cutting the metal screen. We were not very high up, surely the fourth or fifth floor. Blankets would be needed to climb down. But was the woven wire electrified? And what lay beyond? I could not see. Furthermore, we had to take our chains off. They took us to bathe, they unlocked the padlock with a master key that the chief of the guards had; he gave it to them only on those occasions. I realized that my husband was very weak because of everything that had happened, and that he also had a dislocated shoulder. However, it would be a question of giving it more thought. One day, while I was washing the plates, they took me to wash diapers and rubber pants. This impressed me very much because I realized that there were children on the other side from where we were. At that time I heard the voice of children about 4 years of age, asking the guards why their fathers had those things on their heads. I asked the guard how it was possible for children to be there. He said that they were the only ones and that they had been brought with their parents because there was no place to leave them. However, they were going to be taken away the next day. Another day I was taken to the linen room to arrange the clothing they were taking to the laundry, by sex and size. Again I saw children’s clothing in those places, I heard the voices of women who were working in the kitchen and sewing torn clothing. When the guards finished their shifts, they said that they were going to the swimming pool. One day they took me down to one of the boxes. They took off my hood and left me alone for a moment. I looked at the walls of the box and was impressed by the number of bloodstains. Some of them were very high. I don’t know how they did it but since the stains are very large and there are small splattered stains around them—monstrous. He came back and told me to talk to him about something. I told him that I did not know anything and that the only thing I was thinking about at that time was my husband and my child; that I had nightmares about my son and that if they did not release me, I would take my hood and that I knew very well that that meant that the guards would kill me; that they should release me, that I did not know why they were keeping me there. He told a guard to take me upstairs again. On one occasion when the guard was not watching, I told my husband that I would probably leave and that he should be on the lookout for times when the guards were not watching so that we could talk. But there were watching us, especially from that night until the time of my departure. The following night, the chief guard came, told me to sit up; he handcuffed my hands behind met. They picked up my mattress and searched my cubicle. They felt my breasts and between my legs; they shoved me around and moved me to another cubicle. During the previous interrogation, I had been told that, while they knew that I had not taken part in the activities that led to my arrest, considerable time had passed since my arrival at the place of detention, and under such circumstances, I could not leave. I told them that they could not commit another injustice added to the injustice of my arbitrary detention, and after an exchange of opinions among themselves, they proceeded to interrogate me exhaustively on all the circumstances that I might have observed during my detention. Thus, I was interrogated on what my opinion was about the treatment the prisoners were receiving, whether I felt that they were tortured there, whether I had any idea of where I was, and under what security authority the procedures there were conducted. To all of these questions I answered that I was totally ignorant of the details they were asking of me, and that I felt the treatment was adequate. They asked me what I knew of my husband and I answered that I knew that he was alive, that I had recognized his voice when he spoke with the guards, and I denied that I had seen him. I was led again to my usual place where the guards handcuffed my hands behind me, and they watched very closely to see whether I tried to communicate with my husband. That evening, they sent me to bathe and to change my clothes. The one who told me that I was going to be released appeared and told me that I was going to Resistencia, to my mother’s house. He was so drunk that he threatened me and they handcuffed my hands behind me and sent me to a cubicle. On one side was a girl having an asthma attack and she was also handcuffed with her hands behind her. She was frantic because with the hood she was chocking even more. She had an oxygen mask beside her, but with her hands tied she could not put in on and she asked the guards to do it. They didn’t listen to her. After a while, they got me up and took off my handcuffs and shackles. The drunk guard came and took me downstairs. Soon I realized from the fresh air that I was outside. A car approached and they put me in it. It was raining. They put me in the front seat. The car went round and round many times. I supposed it was going around in the park of the same building because I noticed that the road was muddy and the car was skidding from side to side. Also, it seemed to me that it was turning in the same places. This went on for a while. Then we went on to an asphalt road and drove for several hours until they took off the mask that they had put on me to replace the hood before we left. We were on General Paz Street. I was alone with the drunken guard. He told me that I was completely free but not to communicate with my in-laws, never to go to Córdoba, and not to come out in Buenos Aires for several months. He repeated that all of my movements were going to be carefully watched and to remember that they still had my husband. I told him that I was going to leave the country, and he told me not to, to let a long time pass; otherwise I would have problems. It was 5 o’clock in the morning of December 24, 1977. He gave me a document, a Federal Police I.D., with one of the photos they’d taken of me, but with a number other than my real one, and a forged signature. He told me to burn it as soon as I reached El Chaco and to get a duplicate of my real I.D. He gave me three million pesos, told me to go to the Austral window, and said that I had passage reserved in the name of Mrs. Ramos; that if there was no room they were going to take me in the pilot’s cabin and that I should buy my son a cart for Christmas. He left me at the airport entrance. My plane left at 9:20 pm. I realized that there were two men, an 18 year-old youth and a man around 40, who watched me until the airplane took off. In El Chaco there were almost always several pairs in cars along the street of my mother’s house and I never noticed anyone following me, although I hardly went out of doors for months.

         After my release I lived at my house in El Chaco. When I went to the police headquarters to arrange for my passport, I was told after lengthy proceedings and psychological harassment that they had received a denunciation of my disappearance. When they asked who had made it, I replied that it was my mother. Then they made me sign a statement that I had been absent from my home voluntarily and for private reasons. After signing the statement, I was issued a passport with the warning: “With this record, you can’t leave the country unless you sign this statement.”

          At its 46th session, the IACHR approved a resolution on this case. The government, in a note dated October 8, 1979, presented its observations denying any responsibility for the facts denounced.

          The Commission undertook a study of the resolution it had adopted, in view of the fact that the Argentine Government, in its request for a reconsideration, had submitted new evidence. It decided however, to maintain all of the above-mentioned Resolution, having found no evidence to discredit the allegation made by the claimant.

          16.          Of the reports obtained by the Commission four cases representative of the following situation are being included:

a)       Persons at the disposal of PEN, whose arrest was terminated by the publications of the respective decree in the press. The release, however, is not implemented and the arrested person passes to the category of “disappeared”.

b)       Detained persons (either by judicial order or by PEN Decree) who become “disappeared”, the authorities claiming that they were released or that they had been transferred, without specifying, however, under which decree or legal provision this has been accomplished.

 c)      Persons who were detained in military or police establishments without a judicial order or PEN decree or formal warrant from a competent authority, and whose relatives are advised, verbally or in writing, that they have been set free or that they have been transferred, without giving any further information or deliberately providing false information. In effect, the detained person has passed into the category of “disappeared.”

d)       Persons who disappeared at the time of their arrest, in which cases writs of habeas corpus were denied when presented. Their names, however, appear in official communiqués as having been set free by virtue of certain decrees. Later inquiries reveal, however, that they continue among the “disappeared”.

          According to the testimony received by the IACHR it is found that these operations are different from the usual. One of the testimonies states the following:

         Most of the arrests were carried out without the usual violence used in anti-subversive operations; there have also been no denunciations of theft perpetrated by the forces involved in the operation, who identify themselves properly.

         In almost all cases the detained persons were visited by members of their family, and when the detention was for longer periods, they were accorded normal visiting schedules.

         In a small number of cases, of category “C”, the detention period was very short and the members of the family did not have access to the prisoner. However, in all cases they were informed by officials in charge of the detention center that the person had been detained at that site, even though they did not always reveal specifically up to what date and the reasons why they were no longer there.

         Frequently, there are cases of successive transfers until all trace is lost.

         The time of the assumed release never coincides with the presence of members of the family at the site, nor are they informed of their release ahead of time, in spite of their assiduous visits in search of information. In one case, after having read the arrest decree of their daughter, the parents took turns, for 60 hours awaiting information about her in the offices of the federal coordination. But at the end of that time they were advised that the arrested person “had just left through the other door.”

         That testimony goes on to state:

         In a great number of cases the penal, police or military authorities reason that the detained person was released late at night, shielded by the procedural rules (now modified) that require a release to be effected before midnight of the date set in the decree or judicial order. But these same provisions did not prohibit the release from being effected early in the morning when there might be witnesses present, leaving the offices in question, especially when the offices were far from any populated area.

         In the case of those detained at the disposition of the PEN, or those being kept in police jails who were visited by relatives, the mock release is made necessary so that the individuals in question can be passed on to the category of “disappeared” without giving rise to legal claims.

         Some of the examples of this type of case are:

         17. Case 3410 – Carlos Hugo CAPITMAN

         The IACHR has received the following denunciation:

         At approximately 3 pm, on March 28, 1976, while in the company of Laura Noemí Creatora,6 Alicia Amelia Arriaga and Carlos Alberto Spadavecchia, at the door of the house on Sarmiento Street Nº 1426, Buenos Aires, he was arrested with his three companions by a police and military squad. The four persons in question were taken to a number of places, and were hooded and mistreated—according to statements made by two of them at a later date--. No official information was given to their families, who learned of the arrest from the person in charge of the building at Sarmiento 1426, who witnessed the event.

         The search for the four young people was unsuccessful, but approximately twenty days later, Alicia Amelia Arriaga and Carlos Alberto Spadavecchia appeared alone; they had been abandoned in the early morning hours, in an isolated place far away from Buenos Aires. It was known that during their captivity they were tortured, and that at the same time that they were taken out of the place of detention, Carlos Hugo Capitman and Laura Noemí Creatore were also taken out, however they were taken away in different vehicles.

         Having no news of the disappeared persons Carlos Hugo Capitman and Laura Noemí Creatore, writs of habeas corpus were introduced before the courts of Buenos Aires, requesting information from the Executive as to whether they were in detention. The reply was affirmative, by virtue of Decree Nº 39 of April 6, 1976, although the place of detention was not indicated. Therefore, the Court was asked to indicate the place of arrest, but the lower court judge declined to request this, since as he understood it, the Executive was not obligated to provide this information. This ruling was appealed and the Court of Appeals sustained the lower court decision and the information. In view of this situation, a writ of Amparo was filed on behalf of Carlos Hugo Capitman in the federal lower Court.

         During the processing of same, the Ministry of the Interior attached a copy of the Decree of detention Nº 39 dated April 6, 1976.

         Also, after several inquiries by the Judge, Dr. Sarmiento, to learn the place of detention, the Ministry of the Interior reported that: The arrest, at the disposition of the PEN of Carlos Hugo Capitman and Laura Noemí Creatore has been declared null and void through Decree Nº 1907, of September 3, 1976; Carlos Hugo Capitman is thirteenth on the list in this Decree containing the names of 62 persons that have ceased to be under the control of PEN, and Laura Noemí Creatore is twelfth.

         Given this confusion, on February 22, 1977—8 months after the initiation of the writ of Amparo,--Judge Sarmiento ruled that it be implemented, and notified the Ministry of the Interior that within ten days the Court be informed as to the specific circumstances of how, when, and where, Carlos Hugo Capitman, was released. A copy is attached. This ruling was appealed by the district attorney, and sent to the federal Court of Appeals; on May 8, 1978—15 months after the lower court ruling—that Court of Appeals ruled that: this Tribunal notes the contradiction as to the day on which the order of release was issued by the PEN by virtue of Decree Nº 1907 of 9.3.76, and the reports attached on pages 29, 32 and 75, which cannot be disregarded; but since active military personnel or police working under the military can be held liable for an illegal act, this fact must be brought to the attention of the military court so that it can judge whether an illegal act has or has not been committed by the above-mentioned forces.

         Thereafter, in the same month of May, the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights in Argentina published in the newspaper “La Prensa” of Buenos Aires, a letter addressed to the President of the Nation, requesting information regarding 2,500 missing persons, among them, Carlos Hugo Capitman.

         On June 3, 1978, the Ministry of the Interior reported the whereabouts of 87 persons who had erroneously been included in the list of 2,500, since a certain number of them are free; included on this list was Carlos Hugo Capitman.

         All of this demonstrates that the Ministry of the Interior has not taken cognizance of the ruling of the federal Court of Appeals and that Carlos Hugo Capitman has not as yet appeared.

         No satisfactory information was ever obtained on his place of detention, or his fate.

          The Argentine Government, in a note received by the IACHR on March 27, 1980, confirmed the detention and release of Mr. Capitman; it denied any responsibility for his subsequent disappearance. It said that the result of the inquiries made to shed light on the alleged disappearance of this individual show that both Carlos Hugo Capitman and Laura Noemí Creatore left Argentina for Carrasco, Uruguay, on 9.10.76, on Flight 310 of the Austral Company.

          This information has been transmitted to the claimant whose observations the IACHR is now awaiting.

          18.          Case 2266 – Jorge SAN VICENTE

          The following denunciation was received by the Commission:

         Jorge San Vicente, 22 years old, resident at Hudson Street 849, Villa Maipú, Province of Buenos Aires, was arrested on April 29, 1976. On that day, San Vicente was going to work at Maipú 42, Buenos Aires, where he remained for the full day of work. That night he did not return home. On May 1, a search and seizure operation was effected by persons who stated that they belonged to the federal police; at that time the alleged police officers told the members of his family that Jorge San Vicente was detained in the “Narcotics Section” of the police station. However, during the next six months, successive writs of habeas corpus, letters addressed to the government, military authorities, and other endeavors to locate him, all ended unsuccessfully.

          The Government of Argentina in a note dated September 29, 1977, replied as follows:

D. Persons for whom there are no previous records of detention and who are the subject of a police search by the Ministry of the Interior:

141.          SAN VICENTE, Jorge

          In connection with this case, the Commission felt it useful to include two communications, one of which confirms the detention while the other denies it.

          The first is as follows:

         To the Federal Judge of the lower Court Nº 16, Dr. Gustavo Mitchel, Secretary José U. Martínez Sobrino.

         … In answer to your telegram of September 6, 1976, with regard to the filing of habeas corpus, case Nº 4649 allow me to inform you that Jorge San Vicente has been detained at the disposition of the Special Military Tribunal Nº ½.


         Jorge Carlos Olivera Rovere
         Brigadier General
         2nd Commander and Chief of Staff
         Army Corps Command

          Furthermore, the Commission has in its possession a photocopy of the note dated September 15, 1976, from the Command of the First Army Corps, signed by Colonel Luis René Florey. That note states: “We have no information with regard to the alleged detention of Jorge San Vicente within this Command.”

          At its 45th session the Commission adopted a Resolution on the case.

          In a note dated June 11, 1979, the Government of Argentina replied to the Commission, denying its responsibility for the detention and subsequent disappearance of the individual in question. After considering the reply of the Government, the Commission felt that its request for reconsideration was unfounded, since the request did not present significant new evidence, and especially since it did not change the fact that the two authorities contradicted each other with regard to Mr. San Vicente’s detention and since no convincing clarification had been given to weaken the claimant’s allegations.

19.          Case 3842 – Guillermo SEGALLI

          The IACHR received the following denunciation:

         Guillermo Oscar Segalli, Argentine, D.N.I. 10.810.499, was detained on a public street together with his girlfriend; after a week of being held incommunicado they were found and placed at the disposition of the Executive (PEN) under Decree 1843 of August 1976 and held for 17 months without charges, Miss Alonso in the Villa Devoto Prison and Guillermo in Prison Unit Nº 9 of La Plata.

         They were detained for having provided assistance to a Committee of relatives of political prisoners; Guillermo never maintained any other relations with political or subversive individuals or organizations. At the time of his detention, he was working with his father and preparing to begin work in an important firm.

         While he was in detention, he requested and obtained permission to exercise his option to leave the country for Italy, as it seemed the only course to obtain his release from prison.

         However, in January 1978, when Guillermo’s girlfriend was about to be released, it was assumed that he would be released at the same time; in fact, on January 28, 1978, the news of the revocation of the warrant for his arrest was published in all the newspapers.

         The prison authorities were immediately asked for information about when and how he would be released; likewise the Italian Consul stationed in that city was also in contact with the prison authorities for the same purpose, but the same answer was received by both: that there was no further news.

         Guillermo was visited on February 1, 1978, as he regularly was once every week, and he was found to be optimistic about the good news.

         His visitor, upon leaving, again asked for information on Guillermo’s release, but obtained none, although there was never any doubt that the matter would be satisfactorily resolved.

         Matters turned out quite differently, however, and although several prison authorities gave very contradictory and confused reports a few days later, to the effect that Guillermo had been released at midnight on February 2, 1978, in fact there has been no information as to his whereabouts since that time, in spite of the many inquiries made of the Ministry of the Interior, the federal and local police and other agencies.

         Many people living near the prison, and even some people in the prison, have informed us confidentially that, in fact, on that night four inmates were taken from the prison and presumably, Guillermo was among them; that they were taken away in a vehicle which was parked in the security zone of the prison, to which only the prison authorities had access.

         During the second week of February 1978, a writ of habeas corpus was filed with the circuit courts in the city of La Plata and another in the federal Court under Dr. Rafael Sarmiento; both petitions were unsuccessful. On March 13, 1978, another writ of habeas corpus was filed in Court Nº 3 under Dr. Guillermo Rivarola, Office of Court Clerk Dr. Enrique Guanziroli, who, on March 21, 1978, issued a subpoena, as a result of which the prison staff members allegedly involved in Guillermo’s release appeared before the courts of La Plata; but this did nothing to clarify the bewildering event, and although many months have passed the matter remains unexplained.

          The Government of Argentina informed the IACHR, in a note dated March 27, 1980, of the following:

         In this regard it should be pointed out that the individual in question was detained and placed at the disposition of the Executive under Decree Nº 1843 of August 31, 1976, for action that endangered internal peace, security and public order, on the basis of the powers granted to the President under Article 23 of the Constitution.

         Subsequently, as the causes that led to his arrest ceased to have validity, the Executive decided, through Decree Nº 162 of January 26, 1978, to invalidate this measure, and release Segalli on February 2, 1978 at midnight. No information is available with regard to his whereabouts.

          The IACHR is processing this case. It notes, however, that the Government’s reply does not provide sufficient evidence to discredit the facts denounced.

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