(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
Secret Air Force detention centres
It was located in Castelar, Buenos Aires province. It was an ancient building, the old central house of the Seré family's cattle ranch. it functioned as a secret detention centre under the control of the 7th Morón Air Brigade and the Palomar Air Base. Crucial evidence in identifying this secret detention centre is provided by Guillermo Fernández's father, concerning the imprisonment of his son and his subsequent escape (file No. 950).
Guillermo was kidnapped at our home on 21 October 1977. A group of seventeen people dressed in civilian clothes appeared, heavily armed, saying they were the police and were conducting a raid. They ordered us men up against a wall, with our hands raised. After going through everything and finding absolutely nothing, they asked Guillermo to accompany them while they checked his record. They handcuffed his hands behind his back and took him away. They asked my wife to check and see if anything was missing, because if later we dared to make any protest they would come back and blow the house up. They told me to accompany them to my office in Morón. On the way I asked the one who seemed to be in charge why they were holding my son. He replied that my son had compromised himself by his conduct at the Mariano Moreno Secondary School in Buenos Aires city. On reaching my office I found that the front door had been broken in and that there were several armed men inside. Once there, they obliged me to sign an affidavit absolving them of legal responsibility for anything that might have taken place in my home or my office, and affirming that nothing had gone missing. The following day I presented a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of my son, to no effect ... On one occasion my wife and my other son were able to see several of the men who had taken part in the kidnap operation at the Palomar Base. By great good luck in 1978 my son managed to escape together with other prisoners from the Quinta Seré Prison where he had been held. Guillermo succeeded in escaping one rainy day. Naked and handcuffed, they slid down from the first floor using sheets knotted together. From then on we were engaged in a long-drawn-out and dismal pilgrimage to get him out of the country. From the phone conversations he overheard inside the concentration camp my son learnt that it had been given the name 'Atila'.
Pilar Calveira de Campiglia (file No. 4482) testifies that:
The abduction took place on the morning of 7 May 1977, close to my home in Calle San Antonio de Padua. - - - We arrived somewhere, and crossed a lawn to reach the entrance. - - - I loosened the blindfold with my knees and looked out between the slats of a Venetian blind. I could see Ituzaingó Station, on the wide part of Avenida Rivadavia. The house was on the side-street running towards Calle Libertad, at some 50 metres from Avenida Rivadavia, separated from the street by the lawn I mentioned. In the house there was a radio transmitter. That weekend only the guards were on duty, On the Monday the gang who carried out the kidnappings arrived. They took me to the torture room where they applied the electric prod while I was tied to a metal bed-frame. It was a kind of ceremony; a lot of people were participating very excitedly, all shouting at the same time. They were talking about God, saying that we prisoners were God's enemies. At dawn on Tuesday the 10th, I asked them to take me to the bathroom. The window was open and I jumped out in an attempt to escape. In falling I broke my arm and my left heel, two or three vertebrae and some ribs. I also hit my head which became very swollen. The guards realized what had happened from the noise I made in hitting the ground. They caught and returned me to the gang. I could neither walk nor stand up… On the Thursday they brought me back to the torture chamber, carrying me as I could no longer walk. It was the last time they used the electric prod on me. Until the end of May I stayed there without medical attention, abandoned in a comer of the room and then on the bed that had once belonged to my daughter, and which they had stolen from my house. They carried me to the bathroom. One night at the end of May they took me off In a small truck to a hospital where they put my leg, arm and chest in plaster. I was dirty and blindfolded. I was taken to the same place again, without the blindfold, to have the casts removed, and I recognized it as the Central Air Force Hospital. ...
Inside the Ituzaingó house, the gangs made repeated reference to the Palomar Air Base. Food was brought in great cauldrons by uniformed youths. They spoke disrespectfully of the Army and the Armed Forces, and on about 8 June 1977 four of the kidnap victims amongst us were taken to the Castelar Police Station, in a lorry partitioned into stalls. Then I passed through other secret detention centres, including the Navy Mechanics School, before my release.