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Part I
The Repression

Nunca Más (Never Again) - Report of Conadep  - 1984


Raúl Esteban Radonich (file No. 6956) was arrested in Neuquón  on 13 January 1977 and released in Senillosa on the 19th.  He was arrested at half-past eight in the morning at his office.  They took him on a roundabout route in order to disoriente him:

…to premises of the 16st Engineers Battalion, to a place called La Escuelita, which was actually the pick-up centre operating in the area. There I was handcuffed to the sides of a bed for a while, before being transferred to another place. They made me walk in a squatting position all the time in order to prevent me making out the various installations. once again I was handcuffed to a bedframe, this time by the hands and feet. They put two wires under the blindfold on my temples. They asked me for personal details, which were typed on to what looked like a file card. This done, a totally different interrogation session began. The first question they asked me was my rank and nom de guerre, to which I replied that I had neither. That was when I received the first discharge of electricity. Their questions centred around my participation in politics, from my role in an organization to my inclusion in student election lists.  They also asked me if I had any idea where I was.

This clearly worried them a lot since they kept on repeating it - I had done my military service in that same military unit in 1976. As I continued to reply in the negative, they increased the frequency, duration and intensity of the discharges, which were always to the head. I lost track of time, although several hours seemed to go by. in between questions and my screams they made various kinds of threats.

Blood was pouring from my mouth, as my muscles contracted during the discharges and I clenched my jaws with my tongue protruding, so that I virtually bit through it. As my condition got progressively worse, they threw a bucket of water over me to revive me, and eventually suspended the session.  They told me that it would start again in the afternoon, and that it would depend on me, and the answers I gave, whether or not they continued to torture me. The interrogation session was conducted by at least three people, and was attended by the head of the group who had arrested me. He took on the role of the ’kind-hearted’ one, suggesting I talk as it wasn’t worth sacrificing myself for the sake of others. The rest, on the other hand, used a threatening, commanding tone.

In the case of Juan Matías Bianchi (file No. 2669) there was a double simulation: of incineration and of execution:

They made him smell a liquid, asking him if he knew what it was that they were making him smell, to which he replied yes, that it was a solvent. They asked him if he had anything to say, to come out with it, because they were going to burn him, all the time rustling papers for him to hear. They also simulated execution by putting a gun to his head.

Just as they were pretending they were going to burn him alive, he heard a car draw up, someone approached him and said, ’Look, you’d better resign your position as union delegate’. After that there was silence, and then he heard the car pulling away. He stood still for a time, until be realized that there was nobody there and they had removed the handcuffs.

Daniel Osvaldo Pina (file No. 5186) also went through the terrifying experience of simulated assassination. The whole context was beyond belief. He describes it thus:

From there they took us to two other places, where they continued to torture-us and, in the second one, after torturing Arra, they took Moriña away. Koltes and I awaited our turn. Suddenly Moriña’s screams stopped, and I could hear running and voices calling for a doctor. After that, they came to fetch us and, without questioning us, they put Koltes and me in a lorry and took us somewhere else which I assumed was in the mountains. Moriña was no longer with us.

I spent two or three days in the new place. it was almost a month since my abduction, though since I was permanently blindfolded, it was difficult to be specific. On one of those days I heard people going near the place where, from noises, I had judged they were keeping Arra. I heard their boots marching, then they ordered him to ’Get up ... Walk .. .’

I heard the sound of feet dragging towards the door and two or three minutes later, four shots rang out. Then they went to where I -had guessed Koltes was, and exactly the same thing happened. When my turn came they didn’t say anything. I heard the sound of the gun as they prepared to shoot, then they fired four shots close to my head.

The next day they took me away again but this time on my own, in what I think was an ambulance from the army block. Then I was transferred to a van belonging, I think, to the Mendoza police. I was put on the floor and they kicked and spat on me as well as continually threatening to kill me, until eventually we arrived at the prison.

There are testimonies of other kinds of torture, such as being hung from a tree or beam. As an example of this ’system’ we transcribe the relevant part of the statement of one of the victims, Enrique Igor Peczak (file No. 6947).

I was arrested on 15 October 1976 by an army unit, which surrounded and raided my mother’s house, where I was living. Jorge Armando González was arrested with me. We were tied up and blindfolded, then I was suspended from a tree with my hands behind me and beaten from noon until evening. I could hear my mother’s screams as she begged them not to kill me. I could also hear them hitting González. At one stage they filled a container with water, hung him up by the feet and submerged him head first. That was repeated several times.

As one of them was beating me, he told me that if they hadn’t forgotten the electric prod I would already be talking. Then suddenly he punched my ears with both hands, causing me intense pain and a loud buzzing which lasted for several months.

In the evening they took us down and took us to what I later found to be the provincial police headquarters where they separated us and beat me again ...

... and hung me by the throat, until I passed out. I began to lose track of time and my memories became confused, so that I can’t be sure of the order of events, but I’m almost certain that they took a photo of me and then used the electric prod on me on the floor…

They took me to a house ... in one of the places they suspended me by the hands in such a way that I could only touch the floor with my toes. By then my thirst was unbearable and I shouted for a glass of water: somebody came and stuffed a gag in my mouth. Since I passed out, I can’t figure out how long I was hanging for.

Daniel Eduardo Fernández (file No. 1131) was eighteen when he was abducted. He was a secondary school student. At that age he came to know all kinds of torture: punches, kicks, death threats and what was known as submarino in both its forms, ’dry’ and ’wet’.

The idea was to leave the victim without any kind of psychological resistance, until he was at the mercy of the interrogator, and thus obtain any answer the latter wanted, however absurd. if they wanted you to reply that you had seen San Martín on horseback the previous day they succeeded. Then they would tell us we were liars, until you really felt it was true, and then they carried on with the torture ...

... They would make us stretch our hands out and hit us on the fingertips with a sort of truncheon. Afterwards we couldn’t move our hands. Others were beaten until their mouth or eyes bled.

They even went as far as putting a plastic bag over our heads and tying it tightly round the neck until we ran out of air and were about to pass out.

Another method was to tie us to a board and put a container full of water at one end. The victim’s head would be submerged in it and they wouldn’t pull him out until he let out the last bubble of air; as soon as he took a mouthful of air they submerged him again.

On 13 September 1977 I was released, blindfolded, my hair badly cut, wearing jeans and a T-shirt on a very cold day. They left me on Avenida Vélez Sarsfield, near a railway crossing.

In file No. 5604, Lidia Esther Biscarte describes her abduction and subsequent martyrdom, It shows the ingenuity the interrogators brought into play in applying new methods of torture in addition to the usual tools of their trade. She was abducted from her home (Zárate, Buenos Aires province) in the early hours of the morning of 27 March 1976. They covered her head with the sheet she had been using. She was kidnapped barefoot and in her nightdress.

She heard from the radio that she was in Zárate police station. Without asking her anything, they applied the electric prod, stripped her and applied the prod again in the anus, vagina, mouth and armpits. They threw water over her and tied her to a leather armchair. The sheet had been tied over her head. Somebody came up to her and started to twist her nipples, causing her intense pain since they had also applied the electric prod to them.

There were another two abducted men in the same room. Somebody came in and told the other character to leave her alone, ’they are going to take them for a walk’.

The deponent knows that the place she was transferred to later with the other two people was the Zárate naval base since she lived a block and a half away, and from the way the boat berthed. They could hear the shouts of the deckhand and the shock as the boat bumped against the dock.

They were taken off the boat in Zárate arsenal. Stakes were hammered in, and they were stretched out, and left all day. They were tortured with the electric prod. When evening came they were put on board a boat and handcuffed together, that is to say, the deponent’s arm was handcuffed to someone else’s.

On the boat, they hung her by the feet and gave her the submarino treatment in the river. With her were Señor Iglesias, Teresa di Martino, with whom she was subsequently in prison, Blanda Ruda, a Dr Marta and her husband, the former being brutally tortured and her husband raped by the torturers, a lad called Ferndndez who is now abroad, in Switzerland she believes, and Tito Cono or Aniconi or something similar, now free.

They spent about two days on the boat, during which time they were tortured and hung from a crane ...

They loaded them into prison vans and took them to a place she believes from the Esso factory whistle was Tolueno, in Campana. After two or three days they were put on board a raft and taken across what was probably the Tigre. The raft was steered by a soldier in green uniform. They left them on the craft on the shore of an island. Later, she was taken and put into an Army truck, with lots of other people. They were driven to a torture house, where they could hear the noise of cars and aeroplanes.

In the house they were put into an empty swimming pool with high-powered searchlights trained on them. In the pool there were hundreds of dead bodies. She was moved into the house and tortured. It was a house with a bathroom and two large bedrooms. She heard a guard saying, ’These have had it, they stay here, take them to rooms 1 and 2.’ The guards would call each other by animal names: ’Tiger’, ’Puma’, ’Viscacha’, ’Rattlesnake’.

In the testimony of Juan Matias Bianchi (file No. 2 669), resident in Campana, Buenos Aires province, we find a new sadistic variant of sexual perversion:

On 4 March 1977 at 3 a.m., four individuals claiming to be military personnel appeared at the victim’s house, with black stockings covering their faces.

At one point he was lifted up, taken along a corridor and ordered to undress. He was thrown on a bunk and told: ’Listen, I’m ”The German”.’ He could hear women and men screaming. ’The German’ tried to stick a length of pipe in his anus. He heard another voice telling the German to leave him alone, then this person said to him: ’See, I’m ”The Spaniard” and I rescued you from this fellow busting you by sticking the bar up you.’

They stretched him out naked and tied him down with leather thongs. ’The Spaniard’ told him to talk applying electric current to his ankle, burning his muscles so badly that he still bears the mark. He was also questioned by a woman. ’The Spaniard’ then applied the prod to his armpits, where he also still has scars. ’The Spaniard’ was laughing and said to the woman, ’Since you like the privates, you carry on.’

Then he felt the woman grab his penis and pour in a sort of caustic liquid, as a result of which he has had problems with micturition.

In the following extracts from testimonies, there appear amongst other tortures various forms of rape. The victims in each case will remain anonymous,

C.G.F., Argentine, married, (file No. 7372) was abducted outside her workplace in the centre of Buenos Aires at 5 p.m., the time she usually leaves work. The usual procedure followed car without markings ... blindfolded ... ending up in an unknown place ... tied to a bed ...

…and five men proceeded to question me for about an hour, roughing me up and instultng me.  They obtained my in-laws’ address and decided to go there, leaving me alone for several hours.

When they returned from my in-laws’ house they were furious. They tied me with my arms and legs spread out, and interrogated me again with worse treatment and insults than before. They said they had taken my two-year-old son prisoner so that I would cooperate; soon afterwards they took that back.

Then they proceeded to insert what I afterwards knew to be a police truncheon into my vagina. Then they took me to another room, where they tried to force me to eat handcuffed to a table. When I refused they moved me again and they stood me in a corner while they interrogated me once more, hitting me on the head and threatening to stick the truncheon into my anus…

Within what could be called the daily routine, I remember the door of the room was locked from the outside. We were fully dressed all the time, even when we slept. In the sleeping quarters, on trips to the bathroom and to the kitchen, my eyes were uncovered. They would make some or all of us wear a blindfold ‘wall up’ - whenever members of the force other than the usual guards came in. In these cases it was routine for them to intimidate us with their guns, pushing them into our bodies, neck or head ...

On two occasions they took me blindfolded to another building, where I was made to strip against a wall. Shouting abuse they pushed me down on the metal frame of a bed and tied me with my limbs apart. Then they ’prodded’ me in the lower abdomen and vulva while questioning me. On the second occasion they told me they had AG.P. with them, who worked in the same department as me and was office representative. She had been abducted on 28 March 1977, outside the institution.

After these sessions they would  make me dress, and politely, with words of consolation, they would take me to the sleeping quarters and tell another woman prisoner to come and comfort me. This they also did when they brought one of the other woman prisoners from their sessions. I asked for medical attention, and they did give me some treatment for my palpitations ...

One day they took me blindfolded from the dormitory to a room I recognized as the place where I had been ’prodded’. They made me take off my blindfold, and I was left alone with a man who, offering me cigarettes, politely asked me to tell him everythng they had done to me.

As I described the events to him, he pointed out one I had missed, which showed that he had witnessed all the interrogation and torture sessions or, at least, that he was fully aware of them. At the same time, he tried to instill in me the idea that nothing which had happened to me there had really been that serious, nor had the blows been as heavy as I imagined. He told me they would release me and that I wasn’t to tell anybody what had happened to me during that time.

Blindfolded once again, they took me back to the dormitory. At midnight on 14 June they announced that they would let me go and gave me back some of the belongings (watch, bracelet, money) I had had with me at the time of my abduction. They took me blindfolded out of the building and put me in a car in which there was only the driver (who turned out to be the same person who had kindly tried to show me that all that had happened was trivial) and myself.

After driving over a rough, potholed terrain, he stopped the engine. He told me he had orders to kill me, guiding me with his gloved hands to touch the guns he had in the glove compartment. He offered to save my life if in exchange I would agree to  have sexual relations with him.

I agreed to his proposal, in the hope of saving my life and of having the blindfold removed ...

He started the car and after we got on to an asphalted surface he told me to remove the blindfold. He drove the car to a motel; he told me that he was taking a big risk and that if I did anything suspicious he would kill me immediately.

We entered the motel. I carried out his demands under threat of death, so I felt and consider myself to have been raped. On leaving, he drove me to my in-laws’ house.

A seventeen-year-old adolescent, then a secondary school student, refers in the following statement to the outrage to which she was subjected. AN (file No. 6532) reports that she was abducted from her home in Buenos Aires on 9 May 1978. She was taken along a motorway to a secret detention centre. They, followed the usual procedure. She goes on:

... in the early hours of the morning she was taken to another room where she was tied to a bed with wooden slats. She was surrounded by ’The Basque’, three or four other men subordinate to him, and a woman nicknamed’La Negra’.

She was stripped of her clothes, tied to the bed and interrogated with the application of the electric prod and blows to her body.

The interrogation concerned her school companions (she was attentinding the Carlos Pellegrini school), particularly M.W. and J.C.M were already being held in that detention centre and are still ’disappeared’.

She was also interrogated about two boys, L.Z. and G.D. and a young woman, M.G.; as it turned out, they were also being kept there and were afterwards released,

For a time, the duration of which was impossible to ascertain, the deponent was taken to various places in the secret centre ... 

One night a man came to her cell. He tied her up and beat her, then raped her amid threats, forbidding her to tell anybody what happened. After that he took her to a bathroom to get cleaned up. 

As a result of the above, her feverish state worsened and she became delirious, begging not to be raped. When they heard her, ’The Guaraní’ and others of higher rank, ’The Frenchman’ and ’The Basque’, appeared in her cell, questioned her and began a supposed investigation since, so they said, ’rape was forbidden’ in that place.

Once recovered, she was transferred to another ’house’.

Prior to her transfer, her handcuffs and hood were exchanged for a blindfold and her hands were tied. She was led, together with the youths C.N., S.Z. and G.D., to a car in which they set off, stonoing hortiv afterwards. They were warned not to move or a bomb would explode.

Soon afterwards, uniformed army personnel approached the car, made the four prisoners get out, untied them and transferred them to the 10th Ordnance Battalion in Villa Martelli.

She records that when the above occurred she was seventeen years old, as were her three companions. They were all students at the Carlos Pellegrini Commercial High School. In the battalion barracks they were examined by a doctor and put in adjacent cells in a ramshackle building. They were guarded by conscripts, a corporal and a sergeant. After they had been there a few days, Colonel Hernán Teetzlaff came to her cell, bringing with him a statement which she had to sign under duress. This was during her captivity in the SDC which she now recognizes as El Vesubio.

On 30 or 31 August 1978, she was transferred to Villa Devoto Prison together with her companions, to be tried by the Military Tribunal.

In October, this Tribunal declared itself incompetent to judge the case. They were passed to the civil court presided over by Dr Giletta, being released for lack of evidence on or about 30 October, first going through Federal Police Headquarters.

The testimony we present next shows the state to which M. de M. was reduced by the ordeal she suffered (file No. 2356).

Abducted in Buenos Aires she was taken for a long distance in a pick-up truck. judging by the sound of crickets and other details, they took her somewhere in the country. It was like a camp, a provisional set-up, with canvas sheeting and tents everywhere. They left her in a sort of room where she felt terrified and started to scream. Thus alerted, her captors put her into a tank full of water, Her breasts were hurting a lot, as she was breast-feeding at the time ...

Then they bound her hands and feet with wires and passed electric current through them. She began to have convulsions. They said that was the breaking in she needed in order to confess. Then they stripped and raped her.

She asked to go to the toilet. They took her naked along an open gallery full of soldiers. She remembers that they all laughed. She also recalls them taking a group of people and putting them into a helicopter: they were thrown out at the end of a rope, and each time they were raised again they were questioned.

She asked them to send her to prison. She said she would sign anything; she couldn’t stand any more because she had a ruptured stomach and her ears hurt, so much that she was continually fainting. When they took her back to the foot of the metal bed where they had apphed the electric prod to her, the would make her touch the wires, passing an electric current through when she did so, which brought on more convulsions. Current was passed through her whole body by the same wires which bound her hands and feet.

As she had those convulsions and her body writhed about, they would get more annoyed, The doctor would come and examine her, but time went by, until she lost all track of it. It was always the same, the same screams. Later they told her they’d brought her little boy, they made her listen to a recording, but she had become very obstinate, in a state of oblivion, and she didn’t care any more.

They would tell her that the recording was her son crying. As she was being given pills, apparently for the convulsions, which made her sleepy, she can’t remember everything. What she can remember is that at some stage she was given an injection, but she knew that after that the doctor would come, he was always there while she was being tortured.

She also remembers very clearly that they would parade her naked along the gallery and that she was raped several times. She doesn’t remember whether they were conscripts or police. She recalls that at the time she bled a lot and by then didn’t care if she died, nothing mattered to her any more, she no longer even cried. Sometimes she felt that they were rewarding her by giving her cigarettes, later on even that was stopped. Afterwards she was put in with a girl who told her her name and surname, but she doesn’t remember them, she can’t recall anything.

One day she was summoned to make a statement; they sat her at a desk and took a written statement from her, asking the names of her parents, brothers and sisters, what they did, where they were born, etc.

She couldn’t see properly when they were taking her statement because, having been blindfolded for so long, the light bothered her eyes. She knows they made her sign three or four documents; they took off her blindfold to sign but told her not to look up. That night they put a lot of people into a lorry, which was continually stopping and dropping people off. She thought then that they were being killed, she had no idea what was going on. She knows she was last, but didn’t want to get down because she thought they were going to kill her, so a man with swarthy features and wearing what looked like a brown leather jacket said to her, ’Get down or I’ll kill you.’ She was convinced he was about to do so, and managed to tug her blindfold off. When she saw his face, she became even more frightened. He got her down from the lorry and, putting his gun to her head, said, ’Don’t turn round.’ It was then that she thought she had died. She remained still for quite a while, so long that she didn’t even notice the man had gone, she was in a state of shock, she thought she had died ...

Before her parents died, her husband came out of prison. He had also been tortured, but they never talked about it, she in particular never told everything that had happened, as she felt embarrassed about it. He gradually got to know about it because she would become delirious and was scared of going to see a psychiatrist. Now though, she has begun treatment and is prepared to cooperate, should her testimony be of any use.

Of a similar nature because of the sadism displayed is the testimony of Mirtha Gladys Rosales (file No. 7186). It transpires that she was arrested on 10 March 1976 at her workplace in the General Office of Penal Institutions. She was taken to the Federal Police station:

When I arrived at the station I found my father, a lad called Mamondez and his sister, and a youth, Ramos, who, like my father, was from Quines; the Mamondez were from Candelaria. Later I learnt that they had all been savagely beaten up in Quines and subsequently at the station as well. just then an officer called Borsalino appeared and, dragging me by the hair and kicking me, took me to the back of the building and beat me up in the kitchen, telling me, ’You’re the one to blame for my having beat the shit out of those wretches.’ After that he took me to the Chief Inspector’s office: the Chief Inspector, Deputy-Chief Inspector Cerisola, Lieutenant-Colonel Lualdi, Inspector Visconti of the Provincial Police and Borsalino were present. They blindfolded me and, with insults and death threats, gave me electric shocks while I was handcuffed to a chair, all the time interrogating me about my-political activities.

After this session I was beaten up on several occasions, as they kept me at the station for almost four months, It was always Borsalino who did it, in the presence of Inspector de Maria.

In mid-June I was transferred to the Women’s Prison, where I stayed until 9 September, when I was taken away by Intelligence personnel from the Provincial Police and brought to Police Headquarters.

After a while they got everybody out and the Assistant Chief of Police, Captain Pla, appeared with the Head of Intelligence, Inspector Becerra. The two of them started to interrogate me in between punches and kicks. Soon Captain Pla said to me that he’d ’try another kind of treatment since I don’t want to talk’ and they took me to a police station on Calle justo Durant, a block away from Avenida España. They took me in through a car entrance on the right and Becerra put me into a room where Domingo Ildegardo Chacón was tied up, obviously having been tortured. Later on, I saw Raúl Lima who was being beaten up, and Domingo Silva and a Señor Moyano, from Candelaria. Later they took me into the back, where I saw Hugo Velázquez, a driver, Rubén Lucero, and a policeman by the name of Olguin, who subsequently committed suicide, during a trial in the provincial courts. There I was savagely beaten up for about an hour. This was done completely sadistically and cruelly, since they weren’t even questioning me; they would only roar with laughter and insult me. After that I was taken back to the headquarters and left in the office, with Captain Rossi and a Lieutenant Marcelo Eduardo González. As he left, Officer Lucero, who had brought me along, said to them, ’She’s already been softened up.’ Punishment began once again, this time carried out by Rossi and González, who started to hit and insult me, each putting their gun to my temple and, cocking it, asking me ’who had the weapons’, pressing me to sign some statements which had already been drawn up. Meanwhile Pla, Becerra, Velázquez and Luis Mario Calderón, another officer, turned up, and one of the worst torture sessions I had to bear began. I was put in the middle of them and they started to hit me all over, putting my hair, giving me the ’telephone’, which meant clapping both hands over my ears at once, maltreating me, twisting my breasts and other such atrocities. By the time they had finished with me or had had enough, I was disfigured from the blows. That night they gave me some ice to reduce the swelling on my face and neck in order to be able to return me to prison, which they only did two days later ...

On 12 or 13 November they again fetched me and brought me to Intelligence where I was beaten up again, with Franco, Pla, Becerra, Chavero, Ricarte, Luis Alberto Orozco and another individual called Benitez taking part in the punishment. They all beat me up, they gave me the ’telephone’ and kicked me. At one point Ricarte showed me a photo saying. ’Tell us what you know, otherwise you’ll end up like Ledesma, look what happened to him.’ In the photograph Ledesma was sort of lying face-down on a table or on the floor, with his chin up so that his face could be seen, arms spread out in a cross and blood pouring from his mouth; he appeared to be dead.

They took me somewhere we had to cross railway lines and a barrier to get to. There were some steps at the entrance to the building or enclosure where they tortured me. They tied me up and laid me down on something made of metal, they hit me and put me head-flrst in a container of water until I was drowning. Soon I began to bleed (I was having my period), so they took me back to Intelligence. The same men who had beaten me up hours before at Headquarters were present at that session. In the early hours of the morning they decided to send me to prison, which they did mid-morning. When I arrived, as I was in such a pitiful condition, disfigured by bruises and swelling, and my old work colleagues had seen me, there was an argument between those who were taking me (Inspector Juan Carlos Pérez, Carlos Garro and Rubén Lucero, the driver) and prison staff.



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