(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
Secret Air Force detention centres
A secret detention centre was based in the Alejandro Posadas Hospital in the Haedo district, which worked in conjunction with the Castelar and Morón Police Stations under the supervision of Federal Security and Air Task Force. The events took place in the presence of employees and people attending the institution, provoking widespread terror which ensured the silence of all concerned. In the majority of cases the victims were dressed like hospital staff. According to reports, the oppressors working there belonged to the Army, Air Force, Federal Police Force and Buenos Aires Provincial Police Force. In addition, part of the Task Force came from the Ministry of Social Welfare - Public Health Department - especially hired by the hospital authorities. This gang was called 'SWAT'.
The operation mentioned in previous testimonies, carried out on 28 March 1976 and directed by General Bignone, La Razón, 30 March 1976, culminated in the arrest of a group of forty people. From then on, Medical Colonel Abatino di Benedetto became clinic supervisor; he suspended all the staff, discharged them and banned them from going to the institution. Subsequently Medical Colonel (RE) Julio Ricardo Estévez was appointed interim director. Following these appointments a wave of arrests began. The son of Maria Teresa de Cuello (file No.1172) reports:
At dawn on 26 November 1976 a lot of armed men poured into our home, some wearing uniform. They asked who Teresa was. I ought to mention that the only place my mother was called that was in the Posadas Hospital, where she worked as a technician in the sterilization section. They kidnapped her and the same morning they also took Seńor Chester, who lived near us. When my father, who is now dead, tried to stop them, they split his head open with a gun butt. I recognized Nicastro among the kidnappers. (file Nos.
Gladys Cuervo (file No. 1537), adds further details about the workings of this secret detention centre.
On 25 November, Estévez called me to the director's office. I was held at gunpoint there and my arms tied behind my back. At nightfall they took me away in a van, and after driving around told me I was at the Campo de Mayo. However, I realized that we were in the back of the clinic. They stripped and beat me, interrogating me about some leaflets which I'd never seen. Then some other people came in and tortured me with an electric prod. They continued to torture me for several days. From the one called 'Juan' I also heard about Chester, who was weak and couldn't endure the electric prod: passing through I saw Dr Jorge Roitman. who was in a Pool of urine and blood. Some time afterwards they wrapped me in a blanket and threw me into the back of a car on thhe floor. They took me to a derelict house, where I was bound hand and foot to a bed. I was there for about fifty days, and was given medicines and better food. I used plates and cutlery bearing the Air Force inscription. On 22 January 1977 they took me home, I had lost 14 kilos. Among my torturers I recognized Nicastro, Luis Muffia, Victorino Acosta, Cecilio Abdennur, Hugo Oscar Delpech and Oscar Raúl Tevez.
The case of Osvaldo Fraga, linked with the disappearance of Rubén Galucci, is relevant as regards the relationship between the Posadas Hospital and the rest of the concentration camps operated by the Air Force, Galucci's evidence reads:
I was detained on 2 December 1976 in the Posadas Hospital where I was doing my administrative chores together with the nurse Osvaldo Fraga, and in the presence of staff and patients. We were taken in separate cars to the Castelar Police Station. The interrogations took place on the upstairs floor and those responsible were members of the Morón Air Force, At no time did they accuse either of us of anything specific, and only demanded information on doctors, nurses and employees at the clinic who might have beet, engaged in political or trade union activities. They always kept our blindfolds on and applied electric prods to us. In the part of the police station in which we were held only members of the Air Force were allowed access, along with the heads of staff on guard duty, who brought in our food from the base at Morón. In mid-December they put me in a cell next to Fraga. Ten days later they took us in the boot of a car to another place, within the base, where the conditions of imprisonment became hellish. On two occasions I saw Fraga together with other prisoners. Both times we met without blindfolds, completely naked and with our bodies mutilated, covered with wounds, in a room where they rounded us up to eat. Later on they took me to Haedo, then back again to Castelar, until May 1977, when they officially registered me, The Ministry of the Interior informed my family that I was held at the disposition of the National Executive, without legal process, and that the authority which had ordered my imprisonment was the Morón Air Force.
On 24 May 1984, the Commission on the Disappeared made an inspection tour of the Professor Alejandro Posadas Hospital.
The secret detention centre was located in the grounds, in a two-storey chalet. Gladys Cuervo who, together with other witnesses, was present during the tour, recognized various features for certain, in particular the cupboard in which she had been locked for several days. She also picked out the room where she had been kept with Dr Roitman, whom she saw in his death throes.