PROBLEM OF THE DISAPPEARED
1. During the last
three years, the IACHR has received a large number of claims affecting a
considerable number of persons in Argentina. These claims allege that
said persons have been apprehended either in their homes, their jobs, or
on the public thoroughfares, by armed men, who are occasionally in
uniform, in operations and under conditions that indicate, due to the
characteristics in which they are carried out, that they are conducted
by agents of the State. After these actions have occurred, the persons
apprehended disappear, and nothing is ever known of their whereabouts.
According to its regulatory provisions, the Commission has been
processing the individual cases, by transmitting to the Government of
Argentina the pertinent parts thereof and requiring that the respective
information be provided.
With regard to the issue of observance of human rights, the Commission
considers it vitally important to present in this chapter an analysis of
this phenomenon, whose moral, family, social and legal implications
deeply affect all members of Argentine society.
The Commission has in its files, lists with names, dates, and other
data, as well as several studies that have been carried out regarding
this problem. Without giving, for the time being, exact figures on the
number of these disappeared persons, the information obtained makes it
clear that there exists a situation of extreme irregularity requiring
special discussion and analysis.
2. In its 1977
Annual Report to the General Assembly, the Commission already mentioned
the phenomenon of the disappeared, and expressed its deep concern in the
In various countries, there are numerous cases wherein the government
systematically denies the detention of individuals, despite the
convincing evidence that the claimants provide to verify their
allegations that such persons have been detained by police or military
authorities and, in some cases, that those persons are, or have been,
confined in specified detention centers.
This procedure is cruel and inhumane. As experience shows, a “disappearance”
not only constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of freedom but also a
serious danger to the personal integrity and safety and to even the
very life of the victim. It is, moreover, a true form of torture for
the victims’ family and friends, because of the uncertainty they
experience as to the fate of the victim and because they feel
powerless to provide legal, moral and material assistance.
Further, it is a demonstration of the government’s inability to
maintain public order and state security by legally-authorized means and
of its defiant attitude toward national and international agencies
engaged in the protection of human rights.
The 1976 Annual Report states the following:
The “disappearance” seem to be a comfortable expedient to avoid
application of the legal provisions established for the defense of
personal freedom, physical security, dignity and human life itself. In
practice this procedure nullifies the legal standards established in
recent years in some countries to avoid illegal detentions and the use
of physical and psychological force against persons detained.
3. An important
aspect that should be pointed out is in what might be the definition of
a disappeared person. In the writ presented to the Supreme Court of
Justice, entitled Pérez de Smith, Ana María et al without request
(dossier P-51 RN), 1,221 petitioners representing 1,542 disappeared
persons describe the situation as follows:
The persons referred to have been apprehended in their homes, jobs or
on the public thoroughfares, depending on the case, by armed groups
who, prima facie, and almost always stating so expressly, were
acting in the exercise of some form of public authority. The
above-mentioned operations took place openly, with a wide deployment
of men—sometimes in uniform—arms and vehicles; in general, they
were carried out in an amount of time and with a thoroughness that
confirm the assumption that these actions were carried out by members
of the public forces.
After being apprehended as stated, the persons on behalf of whom the
undersigned present this petition have disappeared without a trace.
All the recourses of habeas corpus, claims, criminal suits, and
administrative efforts have failed, as the investigating authorities
in each case have invariably reported no record on their detention.
4. In other
denunciations or claims received by the IACHR it has been reported that
the armed groups that carry out the operations in the homes, apprehend
the victim and occasionally his spouse and children, carry out a search
of the home, looting the belongings of the residents, and as a general
rule, take away all members of the family after placing hoods over their
heads and eyes.
The persons affected by these operations, included in the lists at the
IACHR, are mostly men and women between 20 and 30 years of age, although
older persons and minors have also been known to disappear. Some of the
children, kidnapped with their parents, have been released and delivered
to relatives or have been abandoned in the streets. Other children,
however, continue to be listed among the disappeared.
According to the Commission’s information the phenomenon of the
disappeared affects professionals, students, union workers, employees in
various areas of business, journalists, religious leaders, military
recruits and businessmen; in other words, most elements of Argentine
Description of the operations
1. From reports
received by the IACHR and from interviews and hearings held during the
on-site observation with disappeared persons who later reappeared, as
well as with relatives of the victims and witnesses of the above-noted
actions, three stages emerge as part of the disappearance phenomenon:
Apprehension or Kidnapping, described above, to which certain
clarifications should be added.
The operations, for the most part, are carried out by groups whose
number varies from 6 to 20 persons which arrive at the home or place of
work of the victim in several unmarked cars without license plates, and
equipped with radios that allow them to communicate with each other. In
some cases they are accompanied by additional support forces in vans, in
which, after the mission is completed, they transport the household
goods that are taken from the homes of the victims.
It has also been denounced that when relatives, witnesses or building
supervisors reported the occurrences to the local police, the response
was usually, after admitting knowledge of the fact, to say that they
were unable to intervene. In the few cases where police did arrive at
the scene, they withdraw shortly after having spoken to the persons
directly involved in the operation. This situation has been called “free
zone”, in favor of the intervening parties.
After the kidnapping, there is a stage at which the persons are taken to
various military establishments
for what could be called “background inquiry”.
From testimony received from disappeared persons who were later released
one can infer what sort of mechanisms were used in this phase of the
operation. The persons in charge were well-trained, of rank, who used
ill treatment and torture as a method of interrogation, with the clear
purpose of weakening the victim in order to obtain confessions,
information about other persons, and in some cases, as a system of
intimidation of persons who were later set free without being
usually friends or relatives who were with the victim at the time of the
All claimants agree that torture during prolonged illegal detentions was
even more severe than during the short-term kidnappings.
According to testimony received, only a very small number of the persons
apprehended during this state were “regularized”, that is, granted
due process or placed under the control of the Executive (PEN). Instead,
they were usually transferred to clandestine detention centers. During
its on-site observation, the IACHR interviewed several persons in prison
who experienced this and claimed to have been kept in places they could
not identify, with persons who are at present listed among the
2. Once the two
previous stages have occurred, the phenomenon takes on dramatic
characteristics, when no information about the whereabouts of the
persons is made known. Only a very small percentage is later set free.
The Commission will include in the following section testimony from
several persons who reappeared
indicating the living conditions of the disappeared persons; the
constant transfers that they were subjected to and the system of
surveillance and attention that they underwent.
3. The persons
that reappeared reflect a physical and psychological state of serious
breakdown; they live in a state of fear and in some cases they have had
to undergo medical treatment to recover. A high percentage have left the
country after having lived through this experience.
Up to now, the persons who have disappeared under the circumstances and
methods mentioned above, continue to be regarded as missing.
Some cases of the disappeared
1. Some case
histories of the disappeared discussed below, have been noted and
studied by the Commission. In view of the impossibility of analyzing
each one of the thousands of denunciations received by the IACHR, it has
been decided to select as representative examples, those cases, which in
the Commission’s view, can be considered as pilot cases illustrative
of general situations. The IACHR has attempted to place them into
categories based on their relative similarities.
2. The case of
pregnant women is of great concern to the IACHR, not only for the mother’s
sake, but because of its implications regarding those about to be born
and because of the repercussions this has on the family.
Among the cases presented, there are several instances of the kidnapping
and disappearance of pregnant mothers:
3. Case 2970
– Silvia Angélica CORAZZA de SÁNCHEZ
The IACHR has received the following claim:
Silvia Angélica, of Argentina nationality, 27 years of age, married.
At the time of kidnapping on May 19, 1977, she was two months
pregnant; seven months later the grandmother received the baby girl
born in detention; Mrs. Corazza de Sánchez also has another little
girl, four years old. Her identification card is number 6.071.079. She
is a housewife and her address is: Bartolomé Mitre 2637, 2n Floor,
42, Federal Capital. Date of kidnapping: 5.19.77. On the date, time
and the place mentioned, the victim was arrested by armed persons in
civilian dress. After seven months, she was taken to the home of her
mother, accompanied by three persons, who, although dressed as
civilians, belonged to police or security forces; they had a short
meeting during which Mrs. Silvia Angélica handed her mother a
new-born baby girl (five days old) stating that she had the baby while
in detention and that she had been well treated during delivery. Once
the baby was handed over, they left for an unknown destination. Since
then nothing further has been heard of the whereabouts of the
In note dated September 21, 1978, the Government replied as follows:
C. Persons on
whom there is no previous record of detention and who are the subjects
of a police search under the authority of the Ministry of the
3. Silvia Angélica CORAZZA de SÁNCHEZ
At present the case is being processed in accordance with the
regulations. However, the Commission considers that the Government’s
reply does not refute the complainant’s statements.
4. Case 2732
– María Cristina LÓPEZ de BELAUSTEGUI
The IACHR has received the following denunciation:
María Cristina López Guerra, Argentine citizen,
identification card Nº 7.490.828, born September 8, 1954, Martín
Belaústegui Herrera, Argentine citizen, identification card Nº
12.254.612, address, Nicaragua 10.345, kilometer 22.600, Route 8 of
Section 3 de Febrero, Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, were
arrested on July 26, 1976, and to this date their whereabouts, as well
as the reason for their detention, are unknown.
On July 26, 1976, a group of approximately ten heavily armed men,
dressed in civilian clothes, who identified themselves as members of
the “Joint Forces Commando” were waiting in hiding in the yard for
María Cristina and her husband Martín.
At approximately 7 pm, when they returned from work, they were
arrested and immediately taken into the house, after the door was
broken down with machine guns. A few moments later, with their heads
covered with hoods, they were taken out of the house and violently
forced to get into a car, which took them away. I wish to clarify that
at that time María Cristina was pregnant.
On the same day, July 26, half an hour later, an army truck stopped in
front of the house. Military uniformed personnel raided the home,
plundering their belongings, without giving any explanation to the
witnesses for these actions.
All inquiries that have been made regarding the reasons for their
arrest have produced no results, as have all endeavors to find out
which authority was in charge of these persons, or their whereabouts.
Remedies of habeas corpus have been filed before the competent
courts, but they were rejected.
The Government of Argentina, in a note dated June 16, 1978, replied as
C. Persons on
whom there is no previous record of detention and who are the subjects
of a police search by the Ministry of the Interior:
35. María Cristina LÓPEZ GUERRA de BELAUSTEGUI
The Commission requested additional information from the Government,
through a note dated January 22, 1979. The Argentine Government, in a
note dated November 29, 1979, replied by stating that the claim
presented makes it impossible to furnish any elements in reply that
could clarify or fully satisfy the requirements of the Commission. The
Commission, in turn, continues its study of the case.
5. The case
presented below is related to the disappearance of newborn babies,
infants and children, a situation about which the Commission has
received a number of claims, which include:
6. Case 2553
– Clara Anahí MARIANI
In a communication dated November 28, 1977, the following denunciation
The purpose of this letter is to determine the whereabouts of a female
child, named Clara Anahí Mariani, born on August 12, 1976 in La
It is public knowledge that on November 24, 1976, at approximately
1.30 pm, an armed confrontation took place between the joint forces
and the occupants of a farm located on Calle 30, between 55 and 56, in
La Plata. This house was the residence of Daniel E. Mariani, his wife
Diana E. Teruggi, and their three-month old daughter, Clara Anahí.
According to a newspaper reports and reports from neighbors, the house—where
the child was—was completely surrounded by the joint forces before
the confrontation which lasted for several hours.
On the day following the event, an oral report was made to the 4th
Police Precinct that the child’s name did not appear in the summary
proceedings along with the names of those who had died and who had
been identified by the police.
On March 3, 1977, a written reply was received to one of the notes
presented to the Chief of Infantry Regiment Nº 7, Colonel Conde,
reporting that the child’s whereabouts were unknown, but that Police
Headquarters of Operations Area 113 was continuing the investigation.
Dr. Sambucetti initiated proceedings Nº 36.792 in Juvenile Court Nº
2. Reports were obtained from the Children’s Hospital, the Fire
Department, the Regional and Police Units. All replies were negative,
and the police were informed that no minor had been at the place where
the incident occurred.
After a year of continuous and anguished searching, the child’s
whereabouts are still unknown. She has not been found alive or dead,
and there is no explanation for her disappearance.
In a note dated May 11, 1978, the Government of Argentina replied to the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the following terms:
Clara Anahí: Investigation conducted by the competent authorities to
determine her whereabouts has not produced positive results to date
In a letter dated March 27, 1978, the pertinent parts of the reply from
the Government of Argentina were forwarded to the complainant, and he
was asked to make observations to that reply.
In a letter of May 4, the complainant contested the reply by the
Government of Argentina as follows:
We feel that Clara Anahí is in the hands of the Argentina authorities
or that the authorities have disposed of her, for the following
1. The child could only have been removed from her home by the same
forces that attacked and occupied it, since it was totally surrounded
before the confrontation, as reported in all newspapers of 11.25.76.
Also, all of the neighbors know that every home in the neighborhood
was vacated before the event (but no one would testify to this out of
2. It is a generally held view throughout the country that some babies
removed both from their homes where confrontations have occurred and
from the places where their parents “disappear”, or from the
prisons where they were born, are given away or sold. Clara Anahí
must therefore have been “given away” or “sold” like so many
Insofar as giving away other people’s children is concerned, I can
inform you that Monsignor has told us that he had rescued several
little children who were in the hands of policemen who had registered
them as their own.
It has not been possible to rescue Clara Anahí. Was she given
away by some important person? Or it is some very important person who
has her? The secrecy surrounding the matter would lead one to think
so. (Also some comments that have been heard). If there is a witness,
for obvious reasons, one cannot rely on his coming forward with
A further point which lacks confirmation is that apparently Diana E.
Teruggi was gunned down when the confrontation began, while she was
trying to escape through the back of the house carrying her child with
her. They cut her in half, and in falling, the child was bathed in her
mother’s blood and although unconscious, was unharmed. From there,
they would have wrapped her up and given her to some important person
who disposed of her.
What is known therefore is:
That they took her away from the house alive.
That the intervening forces took her away and that they are
therefore responsible for the baby’s life, but we cannot demonstrate
That she must have been given away or sold.
The names of the military and police officers who were present while
Daniel’s house was being attacked appeared in the newspapers of
November 25, 1976. I believe that they must naturally know Clara
Anahí’s fate. And we also feel that they must be able to remember
the event well because it was the longest, one of the bloodiest and I
believe the only one, where, at the end, they used a bomb generating a
temperature of 2000 degrees, to end the resistance. (This is what was
said at the federal police in La Plata).
In this search for Clara Anahí Mariani, case 2553, everything remains
unchanged: her whereabouts are unknown, despite numerous inquiries
that have been made. We have to go to the Directora Nacional de la
Minoridad (the National Juvenile Bureau); the Provincial Director
for Juveniles, we have held interviews with al the juvenile judges in
Buenos Aires. The Supreme Court took up the case with much interest,
but finally declared that it did not have jurisdiction.
The Commission received the following additional information from the
complainant in a note dated August 18, 1978:
There was hope of finding Clara Anahí through the National Juvenile
Bureau, but they say that there are no records on file. There are
still checking adoptions during the past two years at our request.
They don’t know what results this might bring; let us hope that they
might be able to locate one of the fifteen babies that we are looking
In a communication dated August 30, 1978, the Commission forwarded the
complainant’s observations to the Government of Argentina, and asked
it to provide the pertinent information.
In note SG 235, dated September 18, 1978, the Government of Argentina
replied to the complainant’s observations, but failed to refer to the
events denounced and forwarded to them; it merely reported in the
Persons on whom investigatory proceedings have been started to
determine their whereabouts and possible status because there was no
record of denunciations earlier than that made by that Commission:
Clara Anahí MARIANI (Case 2553)
The pertinent parts of the reply from the Government of Argentina were
sent to the complainant in a communication dated October 3, 1978.
In a letter dated September 30, 1978, the complainant provided the
following additional information:
I am now able to add to the documentation a newspaper clipping from
that fateful date, which mentions the Infantry Corps of the Province
of Buenos Aires, which took a very active part in the siege and attack
upon the residence of the father of Clara Anahí. I believe that its
chief might know to whom the child was given.
I should also point out that the notes from the Argentine Government
dated May 21 and September 18, 1978 are contradictory, because the
first refers to investigations conducted on the case, while the second
states that investigatory proceedings were being initiated because no
denunciation had been filed prior to that submitted by the Commission.
With reference to that matter, the first communication on this case
from the Commission to the Government of Argentina is dated February
7, 1978 and according to the Certification issued by Juvenile Court
Nº 2 of Judicial Department in La Plata, the proceedings—Nº 36.792—began
on April 26, 1977.
In a communication dated April 9, 1979, the Argentine Government
presented its observations on Resolution Nº 31/78 on the case in
reference, categorically denying its responsibility for the minor’s
disappearance; but acknowledging what had happened in the case of the
parents. Some of the paragraphs from the Government’s reply state:
The episode in which the minor is alleged to have
At 1.30 pm on
November 24, 1976, members of the Security Forces –police—went to
the residence located on Calle 30, between 55 and 56, in La Plata
(Province of Buenos Aires), having received information that a
clandestine press belonging to a group of terrorists was operating on
As the police
were getting out of their vehicles, they were fired on by automatic
weapons from inside the house; this led to an exchange of fire.
Shortly after that, army troops arrived on the scene, and encountered
similar resistance from inside the building. This situation lasted for
around three hours. For obvious security reasons, in view of the
intensity of the fire, vehicle and pedestrian traffic was stopped in
the area (as reported in the newspaper “El Día” in La Plata in
its edition of November 25, 1976; information subsequently provided by
the Armed and Security Forces in the operation concurs with the
Because of the
persistent resistance of the occupants of the house, after an exchange
of fire that lasted several hours, it became necessary to use
explosives, thereby subduing the terrorists and making it possible to
gain access to the farm which was seriously damaged by the fighting. A
clandestine press belonging to the “Montoneros” was in fact found
at the back of the house. Numerous war matériel was also found—short
and long barrel-arms, machineguns, etc.—and the bodies of seven
adults, three of which had been burned as a result of the fire caused
by the confrontation.
In addition to
the aforementioned information that appeared in the newspaper “El
Día” of La Plata, the episode was also reported in detail by the
morning newspaper “La Nación” and “La Prensa” in their
editions of November 25, 1976.
newspaper “La Nación” states that “after questioning the
neighbors in the area about the inhabitants of the farm, some reported
that a couple lived there with a baby, and other that several young
people ran a canned-food distribution center there. They worked with a
Citroen van which was destroyed in the confrontation and which was
inside the garage.” Despite de presence of journalists in the
surrounding area, and despite their inquiries of the local
inhabitants, no information had been received on the whereabouts of
the minor MARIANI.
The victims of
During the course
of the events in reference, Officer José SCONZA from the Province of
Buenos Aires lost his life, and officers Néstor Ramón BRUZZATO and
Cecilio GÓMEZ, were injured. The two latter, who were seriously hurt,
were given medical care in the Italian hospital in La Plata.
terrorists were identified as having died: Roberto César PORFIDIO,
Juan Carlos POIRIS, Daniel Eduardo MENDIBURU and Diana Esmeralda
TERUGGI; the three others could not be identified immediately because
of their burned fingertips. But the immediate information, which has
at no time been challenged, is that no child, either living or dead
was found at that place during the confrontation.
resistance by subversives:
As has been said,
the occupants of the house attacked the police officers and then
resisted the joint forces more than three hours by using short-barrel
arms, long-barrel automatic weapons and hand grenades as specifically
reported in the aforementioned edition of La Nación.
It should be
noted that at no time did the subversive criminals report the presence
of the minor at the farm in question. This would have been logical in
view of the fact that her own mother was on the farms and was actively
participating in the firing and if the police officers had been so
advised, the minor and any other children would have been evacuated.
We repeat that
after gaining entry to the place, no minor was found. This has been
the categorical and unequivocal affirmation of the intervening forces
and has been corroborated by the neighbors.
During its visit, the Commission had the opportunity to talk to
relatives of the minor who had been unable to learn of the child’s
whereabouts despite all their efforts. Among other things, they said
that the government’s reply seemed strange to them since they were
sure that the minor had been in the house, and furthermore, they do not
understand how the government acknowledged the mother’s death to the
Commission and, yet, to date, the body had never been officially handed
over them, and it had not been possible to give her a Christian burial.
At its 49th session, the Commission studied the
reconsideration request presented by the government, and decided to
reopen the case in view of its importance; it decided to request
additional information from the Argentine Government.
In a cable received by the Commission on April 10, 1980, the Argentine
Government replied in the following terms:
I have the honor to address Your Excellency in reply to your Telex
dated 4.8.80-Washington regarding Case 3553-Clara Anahí Mariani. In
that regard, I wish to inform you that testimony described in Section
IX of note N-69 from this Government in April 1979 was given to the
Police in the Province of Buenos Aires in response to the request
regarding Resolution Nº 31/78 of the Commission on Human Rights. To
date, the results of these investigations are unknown.
In light of the information provided by the Government, the IACHR has
decided to maintain in its entirety the aforementioned resolution since
it finds no evidence to refute the events reported.
7. The following
is an information delivered to the IACHR by the group “Relatives of
Disappeared Minors” during the on-site observation:
Most of the disappearances of minors were in 1976 (between the months
of May and December).
In most cases where the detention occurred at the residence of the
victim and his or her family, it happened between 11 pm and 2 am while
the family members were asleep.
Most of the minors whose disappearances have been denounced to the
courts led a normal life: they lived with their parents, went to
school—which they attended regularly—or worked. All had authentic
identification. These documents were required of them at the time of
their detention, in the presence of their families.
It appears from statements by relatives that many of the minors had
belonged to the Union of Secondary School Students (U.E.S.) during the
years when that organization was legal, or had participated in school
“subjects” in 1973. In 1973 those young people were between 13 and
15 years of age.
In many cases where the victims of the act were detained in front of
witnesses, they agreed that the procedures were carried out by men who
did not wear identifiable uniforms and who were driving several
vehicles, and that they were heavily armed, operated in groups of
between five to eight or more men, and showed no credentials.
These procedures lasted anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours. During
that time, despite the fact that the vehicles remained parked outside
the door of the victim’s residence and, moreover—in some cases—the
acting forces diverted traffic in the area, no police intervened to
In none of the cases in which the fathers asked to accompany their
children, were they allowed to do so. Nor were they generally given
any explanations as to the reasons for the detentions. However, in
some cases, they were told that the minors were being taken away for
interrogation or investigation, and which police or army forces the
family should address inquiries to hours later. This information
proved to be totally false.
In no case did the denunciation presented before the courts or
official organizations lead to discovery of the whereabouts of the
disappeared minors. The Judicial response to the writs of habeas
corpus has been that the minors are not in detention, and that there
is no warrant for their detention.
The Commission has received a considerable number of denunciations
regarding minors. Some examples are:
Case 3871 – Alfredo Narciso AGUERO
During the on-site observation, the IACHR received the following
testimony. The original denunciation was transmitted to the Government
on June 1, 1979.
On August 29, 1977, at 7.30 pm, nine armed civilians entered the bar
and restaurant belonging to the victim’s father. They said that they
were police officers but did not show any credentials. They locked up
the victim’s parents, two of his sons, the wife of one of them, and
two grandchildren one and three years of age. They asked for the names
of the Aguero couple’s children. When they replied Alfredo Narciso,
they said they were going to take him into detention. As he was not at
home, but at a relative’s house, the older brother, Daniel,
accompanied them to look for him. When they arrived at the relative’s
house, they called at the door, which was open, and ordered Daniel to
call Alfredo without allowing him to get out of the car. When he
appeared, they took him by the arm and put him in a white Ford Falcon,
license plate Nº B.1.125.951, in which Daniel was also. While they
were putting a hood over the latter’s head, they made Alfredo get
into the trunk. They left, and after approximately 20 minutes, Daniel
heard them open a large gate and the car stopped. Daniel Took off the
hood and was able to see his brother taken out of the trunk, a hood
put over his head, and made to enter a place he recognized as the
Morón Brigade (Calle Salta 2466, San Justo). They took Daniel back to
his house. When the procedure started they made Mr. Aguero close the
business; later they forced him to open it.
Eight days later, Mr. Aguero recognized one of his son’s kidnappers
at that same Brigade referred to above.
Two days later the latter admitted to Daniel Aguero at the gate of the
Brigade that Alfredo Narciso had remained there for two days and that
afterwards members of Command Zone 1, had taken him away. That same
version was latter confirmed to the victim’s father by the Chief of
Intelligence. The Commissioner of the Morón Brigade also admitted to
Mr. Aguero that the Commission that had detained his son was from that
brigade and that he was subsequently turned over to Command I forces.
One year and three months later, a police officer told the victim’s
father that his son “had been executed”. He refused to put it in
writing. This took place at La Plata Police Headquarters,
In a note received by the Commission on March 27, 1980, the Argentine
Government replied to the request for information, noting among other
That when the competent organs were consulted it appears that the
individual concerned had not been arrested on the legitimate order of
any authority, and that no order to arrest him existed. This had been
made known to the persons concerned about Alfredo Narciso AGUERO’s
Furthermore, in view of the fact that in the communication the
complainant states that the person named was taken away by security
forces dressed in civilian clothes, this claim is weakened because in
the official judicial records it appears the perpetrators of the act
at no time identified themselves as such.
The Commission is now continuing to process the case in accordance with
its Regulations. However, it feels that the Government’s reply does
not furnish sufficient evidence to discredit the facts denounced.
Case 2484 – Dagmar Ingrid HAGELIN
The IACHR received the following denunciation:
Dagmar Ingrid Hagelin, a Swedish-Argentine, seventeen years of
age, Federal Police I.D. Nº 6.309.613, was shot at and kidnapped by a
group of men dressed in civilian clothing on January 27, 1977, at
approximately 8.30 am on Calle Sargento Cabral in the El Palomar
neighborhood, Morón district, in front of the house Nº 317, the home
of someone she was going to visit.
The events were made known on the following day to the then Ambassador
of Sweden in Buenos Aires, Mr. Kollberg, by the father of the young
girl, Mr. Ragnar Hagelin. The Embassy, which immediately contacted the
Morón regional police unit was informed that the operation regarding
Dagmar Hagelin was conducted by the Armed Forces. The young girl’s
father received identical information both from the El Palomar Section
and from the Morón Regional Unit.
The Embassy also communicated with the guard officer of the chief of
the Naval Command. The reason for this communication was that Dagmar
Hagelin’s friend in El Palomar, Norma Burgos, whom she was going to
visit when she was abducted, had been arrested the night before, that
is, on January 26, at approximately 10.30 pm by a unit of the Armed
Forces. Because of this, an official report was drawn up by the Morón
police to which Mr. Hagelin had access.
It was deduced from the report that Norma Burgo’s arrest was part of
a security operation in the district conducted by the mechanics school
of the Army, with four unlicensed cars: a blue Chevrolet, and three
Ford Falcons, one white, one blue, and the other green, which were
aimed toward Norma Burgo’s house. According to the official report,
communications with all police stations and substations in the
district were instructed, by radio, not to prevent the operation.
Later, that same evening, neighbors observed the same cars full of
people dressed in civilian clothing. Also, according to witnesses,
Mrs. Norma Burgos, who had been arrested earlier that evening, was in
one of the cars. Seven of the men stayed in Norma Burgo’s house all
night and the others left in four cars.
According to the report, Dagmar Hagelin was the first person to arrive
there the following day. She was fired upon, whereupon approximately
ten neighbors came out into the street. The young woman, who was
wounded, was put in the trunk of a car, which was seized by force. The
taxi, a Chevrolet, license plate number C-086838, was subsequently
returned to its owner, Mr. Jorge Oscar Elos. It is therefore only
natural for us to assume that she was arrested by the same unit that
had arrested Mrs. Norma Burgos the night before.
According to statements by eye witnesses, those responsible for the
operation were dressed in bullet-proof jackets, similar to those used
by the Armed and Security Forces. It was later learned that on January
28, 1978, seven cars with soldiers dressed in the green fatigue common
to all armed forces, arrived at Dagmar Hagelin’s house, Calle
Bermúdez Nº 5261, Willa Bosch, district 3 of Febrero, inspected the
house and removed all her belongings. Before leaving, the leader of
the group informed the housekeeper, Mrs. Angelina, and her husband,
that Dagmar Hagelin was in one of the seven cars in the street and
that she was being arrested for being a terrorist.
That same day, the Ambassador of Sweden delivered a note to the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting that it be dealt with urgently.
This measure was followed by other representations by Sweden at
different diplomatic levels on behalf of Dagmar Hagelin.
Aside from these political contacts, a writ of habeas corpus was
presented before the court by the relatives of Dagmar Hagelin, which
was rejected on the grounds that it was impossible to determine her
whereabouts. The case is now before the Morón courts on the issue of
“illegal deprivation of freedom.”
In a note dated January 9, 1979, the Argentine Government replied to the
PERSONS CONCERNING WHOM THERE IS NO RECORD OF ARREST AND WHO
ARE THE OBJECT OF A POLICE SEARCH BY THE MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR:
HAGELIN, Dagmar Ingrid.
At its 45th session, the Commission passed a resolution on
the case. The Government of Argentina in a note dated May 5 denied any
responsibility for the disappearances or for the alleged events.
After analyzing the Argentine Government’s request for
reconsideration, and in light of the information gathered during and
subsequent to the visit, the Commission finds that there is no new
evidence justifying reconsideration.
The Commission gave a hearing to a group of “family members of
conscripts who had disappeared,” who gave a detailed analysis of the
circumstances surrounding the disappearance of conscripted soldiers,
signaling “particular institutional significance.”
Some of the paragraphs of their statements are transcribed below:
In all cases, young men—between 18 and 22 years of age at the time
of the events—who had been conscripted for military service were
involved. A special administrative relationship was established
between each of them and the State, as represented by each of the
branches of the armed forces, under whose jurisdiction the victims
In addition, since the victims were housed in military establishments
or offices, they were subject to the rules and disciplinary
procedures, control and supervision, both regular and special, of
their immediate or higher officers.
Further on the text states:
In the repressive action taken against conscripted soldiers, parallel
and secret methods were used in almost all cases, although of course
they were adapted to the particular circumstances. The system adopted
made it possible for the military units, in which the conscripts were
serving, to be free from responsibility for the ensuing events, and at
the same time to satisfy the main purpose of the disappearance, that
is, to enable the investigation and penalties to remain outside the
publicly known legal framework.
In conclusion it stated:
When the detention did not occur in the victim’s home, it was
uniformly asserted that the victim had received an assignment or was
granted a furlough, following which nothing more was heard from him.
No relative succeeded in obtaining any information about the specific
circumstances of the assignment or furlough which accompanied the
disappearance. In addition, the different versions of the events
recounted by the chiefs or officers of the units were frequently
inconsistent and contradictory. Almost all family members observed
that in the first meetings at which such events were discussed they
were subjected to inquisitorial type questions. In most cases, they
were denied additional interviews after the first meetings.
In almost all cases, the affected persons were declared to be deserters.
Case 4089 – Alfredo Mario THOMAS
The IACHR received the following denunciation:
On June 5, 1976, when Alfredo Mario THOMAS, L.E. 10798595, was on 10
days’ leave while serving as a conscript in armored artillery group
I, Battery B of the City of Azul, Buenos Aires Province, armored
personnel, of GADA 801 of the city of Mar del Plata came to his house
at 1930 hours, at Nº 8261 25 de Mayo Street, asking for him. He was
not at home at the time.
On the following day, we went to find out what had happened and why.
All we found out was that Alfredo Mario was incommunicado. We
remained there until we were informed that a Commission of the city of
Azul, under the Command of an officer would transfer him to that city.
After several days, we went to Azul and found him in prison wearing
his soldier’s uniform. We made inquiries and were informed that he
had been detained for questioning (for 25 days).
On June 14, 1976, when we went to see him, he was no longer in that
prison, and they said that he had been discharged on June 30, 1976, at
According to his companions, the other soldiers, he was taken out of
the place where he had been kept, and no one had seen him since.
Despite all of the actions that we have taken and the inquiries that
we have made, we have had no news to date as to his whereabouts.
In a note received by the IACHR on March 27, 1980, the Argentine
Government responded as follows:
The complainant’s family requests that the competent authorities
conduct a search for him, since they have had no news from him since
Accordingly, both the judicial and administrative agencies conducted
investigations to determine whether the individual named was in
detention. It was determined that he was not, and the writs of habeas
corpus filed on his behalf were rejected.
In view of the possibility that the lack of news concerning Mr. Thomas
was due to the commission of a crime against him, an indictment was
drawn up charging unlawful deprivation of liberty.
The Commission is currently continuing to process the case; however, it
is of the opinion that the Government’s reply does not discredit the
contents of the denunciation.
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