(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
The French nuns: Sister Alice Domon and Sister Léonie Duquet
Immediately following the operations in which these nuns were captured (described above, page 342-3, in this report) on 8 and 10 December respectively, the President of France himself, Giscard D'Estaing, took charge of the demand for their reappearance,
Domon, aged forty, was arrested as she was leaving the church of Santa Cruz, and Duquet, aged sixty, was violently removed from the parish church of San Pablo. The perpetrators of these events came in cars, in broad daylight, and even produced identification.
On 26 December 1977, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received the following denunciation, which they published in their report, and which we transcribe here:
Both French nuns were from the Foreign Mission Institute with headquarters in Toulouse, France, and were giving spiritual guidance to the families of disappeared persons. ... The Argentine press - subject to rigorous censorship - has given a succinct report on the events of the 13th, although it spoke of 'disappearance' and not of the arrest carried out by members of the 1st Army Corps, who showed Police credentials and travelled in unmarked cars, as always happens in these incidents. The Argentine Government replied to the Commission: Persons of whom there is no record of any previous arrest and who are the object of police searches coordinated by the Ministry of the Interior: Domon, Sister Alice; Duquet, Sister Léonie. The Commission received additional information from the Government in a note on 27 March 1980, which in our view clarifies the incidents reported; the case is being followed up in statutory proceedings.
According to reports in the journal Paz y Justicia of the Servicio de Paz y Justicia en América Latina (Year 1, Vol. 7, December 1983):
The participation in the procedure of the then Captain Alfredo Astiz was crucial. ... This sinister character was directly responsible for the identification of those attending the meeting in the parish church of Santa Cruz. Astiz, claiming to be the brother of a disappeared prisoner, attended the meeting under the name of Gustavo Niño and observed in detail the physical characteristics and dress of the participants. When the meeting was brought to a close, Astiz quickly left to tell those in charge of the operation who they were to kidnap. ... Given the seriousness of the incidents, François Gadot-Clet immediately came to the country as a special envoy of Edgar Faure, President of the French National Assembly. His mission was to negotiate for the reappearance of the nuns. Gadot-Clet had an interview with General Harguindeguy and used a series of commercial contracts favourable to Argentina as negotiating counters, The Minister did not give way, but led him to believe that there was a possibility that they would turn up.
In spite of the countless high-level influences mobilized in America and Europe to clarify the fate of the two nuns, their whereabouts are still unknown.
Nor were any results obtained from the numerous searches and inquiries carried out in various parts of the country by this Commission with the cooperation of the French authorities.