(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
The Gómez - Cerutti - Palma case - Files N° 224, 543 and 749
This case is of particular importance since it was presented to this Commission by close relatives and gave rise to a number of different prosecutions in courts in Buenos Aires and in Mendoza province. The background, in brief, is as follows:
On the morning of 10 January 1977, the lawyer Conrado Gómez, father of five small children and professional adviser to the Cerro Largo Company was kidnapped from his law office by about ten armed men who in the process stole money, office machinery and a car, all of which belonged to the victim. On the following day Horacio Mario Palma, president of the company, disappeared. He was abducted from his home by a group of armed people. The following day, 12 January 1977, 76-year-old Victorio Cerutti, a wine grower and main shareholder of the Cerro Largo Company, and his son-in-law Omar Masero Pincolini were kidnapped. in both cases the kidnappers acted with violence, stealing as much as they could carry. Early in the morning of 27 January 1977 a group of men dressed in Army fatigues ransacked the office of Dr Conrado Gómez on the first floor of the Avda. Santa Fe a few steps from Avda. Callao. The following month another armed group went to a stud located in the Paso de los Libres where several race horses owned by the disappeared Dr Conrado Gómez were kept. The horses were taken from there in April and May 1977 by uniformed army personnel and with an order signed by Colonel Medrano, who was head of the Paso de los Libres barracks. According to the replies of the Jockey Club of Buenos Aires to this Commission's request for information regarding the ownership of these horses, they had been transferred to a person named Juan Héctor Ríos. The report establishes that the ownership was transferred on 7 February 1977, that is, nearly one month after the owner's disappearance. In the same way, nearly four months after the abduction and disappearance of Victorio Cerutti, all his property located in Chacras de Coria in the District of Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, was bought by someone named Federico Williams for a company named 'Will-RI SA'. In April 1976 when Don Victorio Horacio Cerutti's son and his partner Raúl Magalio sold the shareholding in the Establecimiento Vitivinfcola Francisco P. Callse SA to Drs Tamagnini, Echeverri and Mota for the sum of $200,000, there were other equally significant occurrences. On 16 April, Army Forces carried out a raid at the office of the company whose shares had been transferred, and at the homes of all those involved in the transfer of shares, and they were all arrested. A week later Echeverri was released while the others remained at the disposition of the National Executive and were only set free in October 1976. Horacio, Cerutti was set free in December 1976 and decided to leave the country. Señor Echeverri, to whom Tamagnini and Mota had handed over their shares, informed Juan Carlos Malagarriga, who had acted as professional adviser, of his decision to pay off the entire debt. Dr Malagarriga told Echeverri that in that case he would have legally to consign that money to the vendors' accounts as they were not in the country at the moment. The payment was made in the head office of the Banco de la Nación Argentina, where Señor Malagarriga worked. Señor Echeverri arrived with his wife, a professional adviser, and other people who did not introduce themselves. After the money was paid and as Señor Echeverri was leaving the office, two of the men with him who at that moment identified themselves as Captain Carlos Alberto Villanueva and César Hunts, deputy Gendarmería commander, proceeded to take back all the money that had been paid. With the excuse that the money came from subversive activities, they took it and disappeared.
Nothing was ever heard again of Conrado Gómez, Horacio Palma, Victorio Cerutti or Omar Raúl Masero Pincolini.