(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
Disappearance of Haroldo Pedro Conti - File N° 77
As well as being a journalist, Conti worked as a teacher, in the theatre, cinema, and in literature. He won the following prizes: from - Life magazine (1960), the Fabril prize for narrative (1962), the Municipal prize (1964), Veracruz University (1966), Barral Editor (1971) and the Casa de las Américas Prize (1975). He wrote for the magazine Crisis in Buenos Aires.
At Midnight on 4 May 1976 he was seized as he was returning to his home in Buenos Aires, together with his companion Marta Beatriz Scavac Bonavetti and their baby. They were expecting to meet a friend. However, when they reached the house, the friend was already tied up, and a group of men dressed in civilian clothes began to beat the couple brutally and then locked them up, arguing among themselves about how to divide the 'booty': both the couple's wages, obtained that morning, and all kinds of personal belongings. Only the very heavy furniture was left behind. They also stole all the,original copies of Conti's work and his personal correspondence.
Conti and his friend were taken away in several cars, including Conti's own, which was never seen again. Señora Scavac and her two children got out of the house by a window as the door was locked and the telephone had been removed. According to neighbours' accounts, the captors returned shortly after, perhaps to take her away too. She had gone straight to Police Station No. 29, where she was received in a mocking way. They did not even bother to go to her house to check on the state in which it had been left, with everything turned upside down. She had no more luck with the judiciary, as shortly after starting inquiries these were consigned to the archives.
Señora Scavac said she was told by newspapers
'that they had received orders from the Government not to give any information on the kidnapping of Conti'.
After filing several writs of habeas corpus with no result, on 2 March 1983 a new petition was lodged with the 3rd Federal Court in the capital, Secretariat No. 7. The new information included in this petition was as follows: a) Newspapers carrying the date 13 November 1982 had given information on the imprisonment in Geneva, Switzerland, of three Argentines who said they belonged to secret groups for political repression, and had carried out kidnappings for extortion. The three said they were to be paid 'ransoms' in Switzerland, and they added that they could provide information on the fate of Conti (Clarín, 13-11-82). b) On the basis of photographs that were distributed at the time when the three men were imprisoned (Bufano, Martínez and another man) Señora Scavac recognized that 'the friend' who was waiting in the house before the forces arrived to seize Conti, and who said his name was Juan Carlos Fabiani, was one of the people detained. His real name was Rubén Osvaldo Bufano and he belonged, according to his own declarations, to the 601st Army Battalion. (The 'friend' who had gone to Conti's house a week before the kidnapping had asked for 'asylum', as he thought he was being pursued by the police because of his political activities.) The Conti children
-Marcelo Haroldo and Alejandra- from a former marriage, also recognized from the photographs, which are now in the court's possession, the 'friend' whom they saw in their father's house when they went to visit him. c) Former naval officer Raúl David Vilariño remembers having seen Conti in the Navy Mechanics School after he was kidnapped. He later also recognized his photograph.