The following is taken from Chile: Evidence of torture: an Amnesty International report, London (Amnesty International Publications) 1983, pp. 29-31.


Case histories

(A number of those examined are not being named, at their request.)

Case No.1

Pedro Leonardo López Fabbri

Personal details

He is 28 and worked as a school teacher until his imprisonment in 1975, Since then he has been a clothing retailer. He was married in 1974 and has two sons, aged three and six.

State of health before arrest

At the age of six, he sustained a trauma to the head and lost consciousness. An electroencephalogram test was taken and found to be normal. He has noticed some weakening of the muscles of the left hand, which is especially apparent under conditions of stress. No medical examination has ever revealed any neurological abnormalities.

Previous detention and alleged torture

He was arrested on 11 September 1973 in Valparaiso and held until 16 September. While in detention he was struck behind his right ear with a rifle butt. He did not lose consciousness. He was also struck on his left knee and left elbow. He was not systematically tortured.

From 6 April until 27 June 1975 he was detained in Silva Palma navy detention centre in Valparaiso. For the first 22 days he was held incommunicado, during which time he claims to have undergone psychological torture involving threats and accusations broadcast to him and the other prisoners for about eight hours a day. During this period of detention he tried to commit suicide by throwing himself out of a second-storey window but was prevented from doing so.

Time and place of arrest and detention

He was arrested again on 25 March 1982. He was taken to the CNI centre in Santiago where

he was held until 4 April when he was transferred to Valparaiso, from where he was released on 8 April..

Duration of alleged torture

He said he was tortured at the CNI centre on seven days; on the last five days the torture was exclusively psychological.

Interrogation and torture

His account of events was as follows:

He was arrested at 2.30 pm on 25 March 1982. No arrest-warrant was shown. He was blindfolded and forced into a car, in which he was driven for about half an hour. When they reached their destination he was led down a concrete spiral staircase to a large room where he was told to undress and then was given overalls and zapatillas (lightweight footwear). His b!indfold was exchanged for a mask. He was then taken to his cell, which measured about l.5m by 2m and a little over 2m high. The cell contained a concrete bunk plus mattress, pillow and a blanket.

His first interrogation took place two days after arrest. It was conducted in another room in the presence of about five other people. He was asked about his connections with political parties. He was beaten: struck on the head, punched on the right side of his chest and beaten with a rubber truncheon on the shoulders. Afterwards he was stretched out on a bed, to which his wrists were tied with cloth, this causing sharp, painful extension of the elbows. A cloth strap was tied round his thighs; his ankles were tied down and his head was put in a special device which prevented him from raising it. He was gagged with a towel. A metal object was fastened to the inner side of his right foot. Two electrodes (in addition to the one fastened to his foot) were then used to administer electric shocks to the lobe of his right ear, to his chest, abdomen, testicles, penis area, anus, legs and the soles of his feet. He was electrically tortured three times that day. He thought the electrodes used were electric wires. While he was being electrically tortured he could hear a generator, so he believed it was possible to vary the current. He did not lose consciousness during the electric torture, nor did he have generalized convulsions.

Two days later he was again interrogated and electrically tortured while naked.

Other types of torture inflicted on him included burning with a cigarette lighter in the kidney region and on the palms of both hands. The burns were superficial and left no marks.

He was in addition psychologically tortured for five days, on two of which he was interrogated for eight hours. During these sessions his family's and his own life were threatened and an attempt was made to hypnotize him by a man nicknamed "Doc", who was large and very fat. His mask was removed. He was first told to breathe deeply, then that the pain in his head was being shifted down to his legs. He was then told to conduct an imaginary orchestra and behave as though he were watching a Chaplin film. He was not actually hypnotized but behaved as though he were. He was also asked to write his life story.

He was held incommunicado for 10 days at the CNI centre, masked throughout, except when he was in his cell. He wore overalls and zapatillas. The food was good. He was allowed to use the toilet, but his cell was cold and he could not get warm, even though he had a blanket. His cell light was always on.

Medical examination and/or attention during detention

Immediately after he arrived at the CNI centre he had a medical examination, carried out, he believed, by a doctor. It consisted of examination of the heart and lungs and measurement of blood pressure. He was asked whether he had any bruises or other marks on his body and what illnesses he had previously had. The doctor was assisted by a woman-a nurse, he presumed. When he showed symptoms of anxiety, the doctor gave him two tranquillizers. He could not see the doctor because of the mask, but thought he was about 50. The doctor made a record of his findings, which the subject later saw when he signed his release papers.

While in prison he had diarrhoea. A medical assistant took him to the doctor, who provided treatment and recommended that he be allowed to stay in bed all day-which was normally forbidden.

Before he was transferred from the CNI centre to Valparaiso he was medically examined again.

Early symptoms described

During one of the torture sessions he had difficulty breathing and was given manual artificial respiration.

He said he had pain, swelling and an accumulation of blood around the elbow which he ascribed to the stretching of his elbows during electric torture. He had pain, swelling, discolouration, weakness and enhanced sensitivity to touch in his legs and feet. There were sharp pains and swelling in the part of his thorax where he had been punched on the right side. He had observed skin changes where he had been electrically tortured: the lowest part of the abdomen, both inguinal regions, the front of his thighs and the insides of his legs at the crura. He explained that the lesions were small and round with brown scabs. After about a week these scabs dropped off leaving some lighter areas which later became hyperpigmented.

During torture he suffered from tachycardia.

He lost 2kg while in prison. Once he vomited, and he had diarrhoea, with accompanying abdominal pains, for four days. There was no blood in the stools.

For four days he had blood in his urine and had pain when he urinated; his testicles were swollen.

While in detention he had headaches around the forehead.

He also suffered from insomnia and nightmares. He was depressed, felt passive and lethargic and easily got tired. He would weep for almost no reason.

Present symptoms described

The leg is still painful after walking for only a short while. There is also some swelling, and he feels weaker and more sensitive to touch. He complains of pains on the inner side of the right elbow. There are no gastrointestinal or urological svmptoms. He still has headaches around the forehead, particularly when he is under stress.

He feels isolated, somewhat as if he were "under a glass bell", but does not have any actual relationship problems.

He suffers from insomnia and nightmares and he awakens easily and frequently. He has been given tranquillizers, which he says help. He feels rather depressed, somewhat passive and lethargic and gets tired easily. He is emotionally labile.

Medical documentation

There is a certificate of a physical examination by a local doctor, dated 12 April 1982, which states:

"Physical examination: There were groups of punctiform, small round burns, scattered over various parts of the body and red burns in the inguinal region and on the thighs, legs and ankles.

"He had pain and tenderness in both ankles and in the middle line of the right thigh. Part of the skin on the thigh and feet is whitish-pink with desquamation of the epidermis, as if punched out. The thigh lesion is lOcm long and 0.5cm wide.

"Diagnosis: Groups of several small, punctiform burns, clustered and diffused (burns caused by electricity); circular erosions on thighs and scabs on the feet; contusion of the ribs on the right side; anxiety."

Clinical examination (one month after the alleged torture)

He seemed somewhat tense but otherwise normal mentally.

There was tenderness in both temporal regions.

Thorax: There was local tenderness and pain on springing the ribs. This was most marked over the right eighth and ninth ribs in the midclavicular line.

X-ray thorax (27 April 1982): Normal.

There was tenderness in the trapezius muscle of the shoulder.

There was tenderness and slight swelling of the right medial epicondyle but no limitation of movement.

There was oedemic swelling of both ankles, particularly on the right side. There was marked tenderness over the medial aspect of the lower tibiae, particularly on the right.

Peripheral nervous system: There was altered sensation in the medial part of both legs, especially of the right leg. There was normal sensitivity to pain.

Skin: A number of small, hyperpigmented spots, about 2mm in diameter and often present in clusters, were evident on the entire abdomen as well as proximally on the thighs adjacent to the perineum. On the right leg were two scars measuring l7mm by 7mm and 9mm by 5mm. The central parts of the scars were pale, atrophic and shiny, and there was a reddish purple poorly defined margin.


The medical delegates found consistency between the torture alleged and the symptoms described. There was consistency also between the symptoms described and the description given by a local doctor two weeks after the alleged torture. The findings of the examination by the medical delegates, carried out one month after the alleged torture, were consistent with the symptoms described.