(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
Secret detention centres in Córdoba province
The Campo de la Ribera Military Prison for legally convicted prisoners became a secret detention centre from 1975 onwards. Investigations have confirmed that it was used in this way.
We were sent to La Ribera for periods of about twenty days, always accompanied by Gendarmería officers. ... I was there six times and saw around thirty prisoners, men and women, housed in one block. Members of the 141st Intelligence Battalion came daily. When they came by night they usually brought 'parcels', as the prisoners were often called. When they took them to be interrogated they sometimes ordered us to 'soften them up', which meant subjecting them to cruel punishment on a stretch of land near the river. (Testimony of policeman Carlos Beltrán, file No. 4213.)
There was a room for interrogation. There I saw how the prisoners were tortured, submerged in a barrel of water. Among the interrogators I remember 'HB', 'Gino', 'Vargas', and 'Fogo'. (Policeman José María Domínguez, file No. 4213.)
From the testimony of Lieutenant-Colonel Juan Carlos Lona before Córdoba Federal Court No. 2 on 27 June 1984, and from other statements which support it, we learn that the withdrawal of the ordinary personnel working at this military prison, in December 1975, marked its transformation into a secret camp.
Between 1971 and 1977 I worked as chief of the Córdoba Military Prison. In December 1975, on orders from the command of the 3rd Army Corps, all the staff were transferred to the La Calera garrison. Direct responsibility for any civilians kept there passed to the above-mentioned command.
The deposition made before the law by this Commission in the case of Amelia Nélida Inzaurralde - who was taken from Buen Pastor Prison and transferred to La Ribera, where she died as a result of torture - led to the trial of General Juan Bautista Sasiaiñ.
The judge in the case, Dr Gustavo Becerra Ferrer, gave eloquent support to the above report in this quote from his summing up:
Therefore, in view of the position held by the author of this statement (which allows us to take what he says as a well-founded and authentic version) it is clear that the man directly responsible for the military prison was the accused, Sasiaiñ, and that his immediate superior was the Corps Commander, General Luciano Benjamín Menéndez...
From what has been established above it is evident that the Campo de la Ribera detention centre was not a 'military prison', but an establishment for the detention of civilians which, however, kept its former title. This is not questionable in itself, but for the purpose to which it was put. According to the diagram of the organization drawn up by Sasiaiñ, the highest actual responsibility lay with the head of area 311.