The judiciary during the Repression
(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
Disappearance of dr. Guillermo Augusto Miguel - File N° 5392
On 24 March 1976 Dr Miguel was reinstated as Legal Adviser to the Municipality of Termas de Río Hondo. He had been appointed to the post in 1971 but had been on leave of absence from 1973 to 1976 owing to his election as a provincial member of parliament.
In the course of his duties he had to take a decision on proceedings arising out of complaints by members of the community that a certain nightclub was exploiting minors. This resulted in the closure of the club on orders from Vagliatti, the then Mayor.
As a result, Dr Miguel was visited at his home at 41 Pasaje Ramón Carrillo by the owner of the establishment, known as Madame Yola. She asked him to help get the closure lifted. He repeatedly refused and on her last visit the above-named person threatened him with action from the Intelligence Services of Musa Azar, since they apparently were partners in the business.
Mayor Vagliatti subsequently told Dr Miguel that he was under pressure from Government House, without naming names, to dismiss him. Dr Miguel then asked for a meeting with the provincial Minister who received him in his office on 22 November 1976. He informed him that he had information from the provincial Intelligence Services to the effect that Dr Miguel was a subversive. Dr Miguel asked for his public and private life to be thoroughly investigated so that this charge could be disproved, and he also informed the Minister of the details of the closure of the nightclub. The Minister was apparently satisfied and offered him guarantees as to his safety and his job security.
The next day, at approximately 8.45 p.m., Dr Miguel was driving his car when it was intercepted by two vehicles blocking his path in front and behind. He was forced out of his car and into one of the other vehicles, which reversed and drove off towards the east. This was witnessed by various neighbours, who immediately informed his wife, Ana Maria Tonnelier de Miguel. She made a deposition to Police Station No. 3 straight away where proceedings were set In motion and a statement taken. The matter was then taken to Criminal Court No. 3.
These police and judicial measures had no effect, and the pilgrimage of Dr Miguel's wife and parents to government, military and Church authorities in search of information began. Replies to all their inquiries were negative.
However, Colonel Llamas, then Army Commander in Tucumán, stated that Dr Miguel was alive and that he had taken steps to improve his prison conditions. Shortly afterwards he gave Guillermo's father, Eduardo Miguel, former provincial Governor, a letter addressed to Colonel Ruíz Palacios, Minister Harguindeguy's Under-secretary of Institutional Affairs.
When he went to see him in Buenos Aires, Ruíz Palacios was very surprised by the contents of the letter and asked for a week to investigate the matter. At a subsequent meeting he said that he had 'your son's papers' as he put it. That was the last SeñorMiguel heard, however. There was no further contact and all further meetings with the authorities proved negative.
In 1978 they were visited by a lady who said she was a member of the Police Information Department under Musa Azar. She said she had seen Dr Guillermo Miguel in Punta Indio Prison when taking a group of prisoners there because of the redistribution caused by the visit of the OAS Human Rights Commission. She said that she had had contact with Dr Miguel in Punta Indio, and that he had asked her to assure his family that he was in good shape and to ask them to send some clothes. She brought a few lines written by the prisoner which handwriting experts later declared to be authentic.
The deposition relevant to these facts was made by Señor Guillermo A. Miguel's mother to the Provincial Commission for Human Rights Violations in Santiago del Estero. It decided to institute legal proceedings and present its findings to the trial judge in Criminal Court No. 3 in Santiago del Estero.