(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
Prisoners thrown into the sea
This is scarcely credible, but is mentioned by many witnesses; some because they had heard about it, others because of direct references made by their captors. Then there were the bodies washed up by currents on the shore. It is indeed difficult to believe, but in the general context of this savage repression one can imagine that for those who practised it, it was just one more method among many with the same purpose.
A declaration made before the French National Assembly by three women freed from the Navy Mechanics School reads as follows:
On the day of the transfer the atmosphere was very tense. We didn't know whether it would be our turn that day or not.
... they began calling prisoners by number ...
They were taken to the first-aid room in the basement, where a nurse was waiting to give them an injection to send them to sleep, but not kill them. They were taken out by the side door of the basement like that, alive, and put in a lorry. They were driven to Buenos Aires Municipal Airport half-asleep, put into a plane which flew southwards out to sea, and thrown in alive.
Captain Acosta forbade any mention of the subject of 'transfers' from the start. In moments of hysteria he would say things like: 'Anyone who makes trouble here gets given a pentothal and sent up aloft.' (file Nos. 4442 and 5307.)
The deposition of Norma Susana Burgos (file No. 1293) corroborates the above, as does the testimony of Lisandro Cubas (file No. 6974), who says:
In general, where the fate of the 'transfers' was concerned the officers avoided the subject, and even expressly forbade it being mentioned. As far as we know from the comments of some Task Force officers, the 'transfer' prisoners were given an injection of pentothal, loaded asleep into a plane and thrown into the sea. They said that previously the method had been to shoot people and burn the corpses in the Navy Mechanics School ovens or bury them in common graves in cemeteries in Buenos Aires province.
Among others, the testimony of Jorge Luis Eposto (file No. 6514) describes a similar procedure which was generally believed to be in practice at another military base:
Every night a Hercules transport plane took off from the runway of the Campo de Mayo base; I recognized it because it was a very well-known and distinctive type of plane, which always headed in the same south-easterly direction. It left between 23.00 and 24.00 hours, or more precisely between 23.30 and 24.00, returning between 01.00 and 01.30 after a flight of not longer than an hour. The daily flight, which we seldom failed to see or hear, was a common topic of conversation among the staff at the Campo de Mayo hospital, where it was said that it carried the people to be thrown into the sea.
All this ties in with the information which appeared in the newspaper Clarín of 30 December 1983, including the deposition made by the municipality of General Lavalle before Court I of the Dolores justice Department: 'thirty-seven unnamed bodies were discovered in the cemetery 38 kilometres to the south-east of Santa Teresita in Buenos Aires province. The bodies had appeared on various beaches from mid-1976 onwards. The sea, whose currents are very irregular in this area, had cast them up on the sand in a very disfigured state. Some bodies bore the unmistakable signs of violence; the salt water and predatory fish had disfigured nearly all of them. The corpses were picked up by the voluntary firemen of Santa Teresita, with the help of the Provincial Police. A municipal doctor gave the appropriate death certificates, all with no name. They all came from far out to sea. In the opinion of one expert they could have fallen from a ship or been thrown from planes.