Automotores Orletti trial: pleadings come to a close with request for sentences

Today was the second and final hearing of the plaintiffs’ pleadings in the trial over crimes committed in the Orletti clandestine detention center. Two murders had never been brought to light during a trial before and, for the first time, these defendants are being held to account for their actions under state terrorism. We requested that three of them be sentenced to life in prison.

From last Monday through today, we submitted our pleadings in the third oral trial for the crimes committed in the clandestine detention center known as Automotores Orletti, which operated in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Floresta. The crimes committed against nine people were investigated in this instance.

The defendants who came before Federal Court No. 1 had never been summoned by the federal authorities to answer for crimes against humanity. Of the four defendants, Rolando Oscar Nerone, Oscar Roberto Gutiérrez and José Néstor Ferrer were members of the Federal Security Superintendence of the Argentine Federal Police – the first two in the Foreign Affairs Department and Ferrer in the General Intelligence Office – and César Alejandro “Pino” Enciso is an ex-SIDE (Argentine Secretariat of Intelligence) agent.

On September 26, 1976, Nerone and Gutiérrez, the latter as deputy commissioner, participated in a joint operation between military, police personnel and civilians on the corner of Mitre and Carlos Gardel streets in San Martin, Province of Buenos Aires. During the operation, Mario Roger Julien Cáceres was killed, while Victoria Lucía Grisonas de Julien and their two children, Anatole and Victoria, ages 4 and 1, were abducted and taken to the Orletti detention center. The children were then taken to Chile, abandoned and legally adopted by a couple there; Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo located them in August 1979.

This trial seeks judgment for Mario’s murder, which has gone unpunished until now. Both Uruguayan activists, Mario’s remains were never found because of his clandestine burial and Victoria remains among the disappeared. The crimes committed against their children have still not been tried and were not the subject of the investigation in this oral debate.

On the night of September 14, 1976, a group of armed soldiers and civilians led by Ferrer surrounded 1010 Forest Ave. and opened fire on the occupants of the 6th floor apartment. Estela María Moya was killed at the scene; her death has been clarified for the first time at trial. Also in the apartment were Gustavo Adolf Gayá, his sister-in-law Ana María del Cármen Pérez, nine months pregnant, and Estela and Gustavo’s 2-year-old son, Ernesto. They were taken to Orletti, where Ricardo Gayá, Ana María’s husband, had been in captivity since July 30. Her water broke and she was transferred.

Ferrer stands accused of homicide in the case of Estela and the abductions of Gustavo and Ana María, who were tortured and subjected to inhuman conditions during their captivity. Both were on the list of disappeared until they were identified by the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team. They had been thrown inside barrels into the Luján River; a navy prefect found them in 1989. Ana María had been executed by gunshot to the stomach.

In 1976 Enciso, also know as “Pino” or “Polaquito,” was part of the task force led by Aníbal Gordon. He is accused of the abductions of Gerardo Francisco Gatti and Julio César Rodríquez, both Uruguayan, and Manuela Santucho and her sister-in-law, Cristina Silvia Navaja de Santucho.

Gerardo Gatti was 43 when he was abducted in the early morning of July 9, 1976 from an apartment in the Nuñez neighborhood. Nearly a week later, he was taken to Orletti and tortured. Gatti was already under suveillance by Uruguayan intelligence because of his work as a union leader. He was president of the Graphic Arts Workers’ Union, leader of the Anarchist Union of Uruguay and founder of the National Workers’ Convention. On June 15, a few days after Gatti’s abduction, Julio César Rodríguez Rodríguez, 21 and also Uruguayan, arrived at the print shop where he worked to find a group of people in civilian clothing waiting for him. Gatti did not survive the torture and his body was never found; Rodríguez was taken from Orletti to an unknown destination and remains on the list of disappeared.

On July 13, 1976, a group of armed men abducted Manuela Santucho and Cristina Navajas de Santucho, pregnant at the time, from Manuela’s second-floor apartment on 735 Warnes Street. Both women’s children were in the apartment at the time of the abduction. Manuela and Cristina were taken to Orletti and tortured and then later seen in other clandestine centers. Both are among the disappeared and their cases have been examined in previous trials. However, this is the first time ex-SIDE agent César Alejandro “Pino” Enciso must answer for his role in their abductions.

Enciso’s case is a particular one: because he was living in Brazil, he had to be extradited to face trial. The examining magistrate requested his extradition for the abduction and torture of 39 persons, but the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court only partially granted the extradition for the crimes of aggravated illegal deprivation of liberty against Gatti, Rodríguez, Santucho and Navaja de Santucho.

We request that Rolando Oscar Nerone, Oscar Roberto Gutiérrez and José Néstor Ferrer be sentenced to life imprisonment, and that César Alejandro Enciso be sentenced to serve 24 years in prison.

More than 300 people passed through the old Orletti mechanic shop in Floresta, rented from May to November 1976 for the purpose of using it as a clandestine detention center. It was under the control of the SIDE, in coordination with the Argentine and Uruguayan armies. The majority of people abducted under Operation Condor were concentrated at Orletti.

We made our pleadings on behalf of the unified legal team representing plaintiffs, which includes the Liga Argentina por los Derechos Humanos and the Equipo Jurídico Kaos.