(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
Main secret detention centres within the jurisdiction
of the Buenos Aires provincial police headquarters
Secret detention centres at Las Flores, Monte Pelone, Olavarría
The regions of Tandil, Azul, Las Flores and Olavarría suffered badly during the years of repression. Within these areas women and men were illegally deprived of their freedom, then held, hidden and tortured. Where they ended up is in many cases still unknown to us.
According to what can be deduced from the witnesses' testimony, there was a close connection between these camps, located in Security Area 124, whose director at the time of the accusations was the then Lieutenant-Colonel Ignacio Aníbal Verdura, head of the 2nd Regiment of Armoured Fusiliers of Olavarría. Some of the victims appeared at the 10th Regiment in Tandil, or in Azul Prison, which corresponded to the sub-zone of the 12th Security District. others lived out their secret captivity in the La Plata Detective Squad, in the jurisdiction of Sub-Zone 11, run by the 1st Army Corps.
From the information examined one can conclude that the commonest itinerary imposed on the prisoners was the following:
Francisco Nicolás Gutiérrez (file No. 2319) recounts:
... he was seized from his home in Tandil on 13 September 1977. They asked him for his daughter's address. He was taken to Olavarría and then to Las Flores...
Having arrived at Las Flores and after failing to supply information regarding his daughter, he was taken, still hooded and handcuffed , to the torture room, where they applied electric shocks.
Then they took him to a cell and for three days they starved him, and he was forced to hear the cries of his two daughters. On the fourth day he was taken to La Plata together with his daughter, Isabel, and her husband. In the Detective Squad there, after his daughter and her husband had been taken to Arana for interrogation, the three of them were put in a cell together.
Ricardo Alberto Cassano (file No. 2643) reported that he had been held in the Olavarría Regiment, in Sierras Bayas and in Las Flores, for nearly two months. Carlos Leonardo Genson (file No. 2646) was held in the Olavarría Regiment. Osvaldo Raúl Ticera (file No. 2644), likewise-, Juan José Castelucci (file No. 2642) gave an account of his time in Monte Pelone, where he said he saw Jorge Oscar Fernández, and he explained how, to start the electric shock system, a generator was used, adding that he was photographed there; and Osvaldo Roberto Fernández (file No. 2645) who was also taken to Monte Pelone.
Mario Méndez, released from a Tandil secret detention centre, brought the Commission on Disappeared People a ring which he found in a blood-stained coat given to him during his term as a prisoner. When it was shown to Lidia Gutiérrez, she recognized it as her sister Isabel's wedding ring (file No. 2320); her sister and her husband (Juan Carlos Ledesma) are still numbered among the disappeared.
In the investigation undertaken by the Commission on Disappeared People on 29 February 1984 witnesses Cassano, Genson, Fernández and Lidia A. Gutiérrez recognized the Sierras Bayas or Monte Pelone camp as the secret detention centre in which they had been imprisoned. Genson told how he was able to see the national emblem on the front of a building from the tent where he slept and that the plates too bore the insignia of the Argentine Army. Ferndndez recognized the irregular floor of the entrance hall and the wooden floorboards in one of the rooms, and the place where he was held with Genson and Castelucci. Lidia Gutiérrez recognized the kitchen, and commented that the crockery was stamped with 'Argentine Army'. She picked out the guardroom.
The evidence provided by Lidia Araceli de Guti6rrez (file No.1949) is of particular relevance. She was seized at her home on 16 September 1977, in Olavarría:
... an armed gang came to her house asking after her sister… on the following day she was kidnapped with her husband. Her sister was also seized with her husband Juan Carlos Ledesma and their tiny five-day-old baby, whose birth had not yet been registered. She was left in a Moses basket at the entrance to the Cacharí Police Station ...
... they continued heaping one body on top of the other throughout the journey collecting kidnap victims ...
They were taken to the Las Flores Detective Squad. She mentions seeing several other victims, whose names she supplied ...
She learnt from her mother that her father had been imprisoned and tortured there…she also found a bag and clothes belonging to her sister in the bathroom…One group was taken to Monte Pelone and another to the La Plata Detective Squad …in Monte Pelone, she was able to look out from under the blindfold and observed a soldier in military uniform on guard duty, and many others in civillian clothes …On the first day they returned at intervals to beat the prisoners and tighten their handcuffs until their wrists bled …the torturers came in from outside in a Fiat 1500 …the food was bad and scanty and hygiene non-existent …Alfredo Maccarini from Olavarría was severly tortured and brought in and taken away on the same night …it was impossible for her to confirm that Colonel Verdura was a torturer, but he was the person responsible for what took place at Monte Pelone …the fate of those who had been in Monte Pelone was as follows: Oscar Fernández, dead, Alfredo Maccarini, disappeared; Pasucci, mentally disturbed; and Jorge Toledo became registered as an official prisoner and committed suicide in Caseros Prison.