“Sheraton” trial: Our pleadings on behalf of Ana María Caruso and Roberto Carri

Ana María and Roberto were abducted in Morón, a suburb of Buenos Aires, and taken to the clandestine detention center known as the Sheraton or Embudo. For the couple’s kidnapping and torture, we ask that the court sentence the four defendants to 25 years in prison. At the trial, CELS represents their daughters, Andrea, Paula and Albertina Carri.

Ana María Caruso left her home in Morón just after lunch on February 24, 1977. She left her three daughters – María Andrea, 13, Paula, 11 and Albertina, 3 – at home with her husband, Roberto Carri. That day around 6 p.m., Albertina called Paula saying a neighborhood friend was looking for her. Once out on the sidewalk, the neighbor gestured for them not to come out and went back into her house. Just then, several private vehicles followed by Army trucks and patrol cars sped onto Húsares street. A group of plainclothes and uniformed officers got out of the vehicles, yelling at the few neighbors who were outside and dispersing them. One of them grabbed Paula and the other Albertina.

Andrea saw everything through the window. Frightened, she called out to her father, Roberto, who was in his office. They both ran for the door. Paula managed to get away from the person holding her and ran inside, locking the door behind her. More men surrounded the house and shots could be heard from inside. Albertina was still outside in the grips of one of the men participating in the raid.

Roberto told the two girls to run to the next-door neighbor’s house, but they refused. All three ended up running to the back of the house and jumped a dividing wall, then another until reaching a house on the opposite side of the block. Roberto asked the people there to say they were relatives. At that moment, soldiers, police and plainclothes officers entered the house.

Paula Carri recalled that they threw Roberto onto the floor and held him in a choke-hold with a gun to his throat. When they asked him where he was hiding the weapons and he told them he didn’t have any, they took him away. A moment later they went after Paula and Andrea. They told the girls they were taking them to their paternal grandmother’s house and showed them a piece of paper with her phone number on it. They put them in a car, where Albertina was already being held. The three girls were extremely frightened and distraught at having witnessed the violent treatment of their father. Paula also saw her mother, with a hood placed on her head, in another car.

At around 8 p.m. that night, María Elisa Cappagli de Carri, Roberto’s mother, got a phone call. Someone identifying himself as Captain Flores informed her that the couple was in custody and that she should go to pick up her grandchildren from the local Villa Tesei police station.

Roberto and Ana María were held until at least December 1977 at the “Sheraton” clandestine detention center, which operated on the premises of the Villa Insuperable police station, located in the district of La Matanza, Zone I of the First Army Corps.

Just a few days after the abduction, the girls got a call from Ana María to see how they were doing. These calls were repeated nearly once a week until June of that year. That month, the Carri sisters were summoned to a town square in the suburb of San Justo; they went accompanied by their aunt, María Elena Caruso. There they met with their mother, who was in the custody of two men. Later, María Elena and the girls were taken to a bar, where they met with Roberto.

In addition to these meetings and calls, there was also written correspondence, mainly channeled through one of the guards, known as “el negro Raúl,” later identified as Buenos Aires Province policeman Jorge Ismael Sandoval, now deceased. He and another policeman, “El Rubio,” acted as mail service for relatives of other detainees-disappeared persons in captivity with the Carri-Caruso couple.

Roberto Carri and Ana María Caruso de Carri had been members of the press unit of the Montoneros armed political group in western Buenos Aires province. Known as Coco and Sarita, they were forced to work for their kidnappers.

On December 29, 1977, the family met for the last time at Roberto’s mother’s home. Roberto seemed concerned and asked his mother to contact heavyweight military officers. After that meeting, all contact was cut off with Roberto and Ana María and never resumed. They are among the disappeared.

The accused

Buenos Aires Federal Court No. 1 must decide the criminal responsibility attributable to Manuel Antonio Luis Cunha Ferré, Roberto Obdulio Godoy, Rodolfo Enrique Godoy and Juan Alfredo Battafarano for the crimes of deprivation of liberty and torture.

The “Sheraton” or “Embudo” (Funnel) clandestine detention center functioned for two years from 1976 to 1978. The military gave it the famous hotel chain’s name because of the well-known artists and intellectuals held there. They were kept there illegally under the authority of the Intelligence section of the Ciudadela Artillery Group, which was part of the Central de Reunión de Inteligencia or CRI (an intelligence-gathering service functioning under Infantry Regiment 3 of La Tablada).

At the time of the events, Cunha Ferré was an intelligence officer and Roberto Obdulio Godoy was an operations agent in the “General Iriarte” Artillery Group No. 1 of Ciudadela. Rodolfo Enrique Godoy, their immediate superior officer, was second in command of the Artillery Group and chief of staff of that unit. Battafarano was deputy police commissioner of Villa Insuperable and, in that capacity, not only provided the station space but also the staff needed for holding kidnapped persons in custody. The keys to the cells were held by the service officer or guard sergeant; in other words, prisoners were always held under the purview of Battafarano’s authority. His presence also served another purpose: to give the appearance that this unit was a police station and not a clandestine detention center.

The two officers participated in the planning and execution of kidnapping operations and, in the case of Cunha Ferré, also in the production of intelligence on new “targets.” In our analysis of military regulations, we were able to reconstruct that the operations officer, Roberto O. Godoy, planned, executed, had subordinate officers execute or supervised the execution of operations in the so-called “fight against subversion.” Cunha Ferré was the Artillery Group No. 1 officer in charge of the Sheraton and went there almost daily.

The testimonies heard from victims during the trial identified Cunha Ferré as the interrogator during torture sessions and, occasionally, the direct perpetrator of the torture. The illegal detentions and torture occurred in numerous areas on police station premises: in the cells, out in the patio and on the upper floor.

On behalf of Andrea, Paula and Albertina Carri, we consider that the crimes attributed to the accused have been proven and ask that they be sentenced to 25 years in prison for the illegal deprivation of liberty – aggravated by violence or threats and for having lasted over a month – and for the crime of aggravated torture of the victims of political persecution Ana María Caruso and Roberto Carri.