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


Case No.2


Personal details

He is 21, unmarried and lives with his parents. He went through high school and is now doing a course in journalism. While he was a student he was also for a time a telephone operator but was dismissed before being detained. He is supported by his parents.

State of health before arrest

When he was two he had tonsillitis, which was apparently complicated by endocarditis. Prophylactic penicillin was prescribed during the subsequent 10 winters.

Time and place of arrest and detention

He was arrested in the first quarter of 1982. He was held at the CNI centre in Santiago for 19 days then transferred to the Cárcel Pública (Public Prison), where he stayed until his release on bail, 45 days after arrest.

Duration of alleged torture

He said he was tortured on 19 days. On the last 14 the torture was exclusively psychological.

Interrogation and torture

His account of events was as follows:

About 12 people in civilian clothes broke into his home in the first quarter of 1982. No arrest-warrant was shown. They searched the premises for two hours and arrested him, his father and another relative. They hooded and handcuffed him, then drove him to the CNI centre.

For the first five days he was interrogated several times a day, and simultaneously tortured, mainly physically. He was slapped and struck on the head, mouth, body and genitals, and his buttocks and extremities were kicked. He was also electrically tortured on two occasions, each lasting five minutes. He was made to sit on a chair and electric current was applied to his back via a cable conducting current from a machine he thought was hand-driven.

The interrogations continued for the next 14 days he spent at the CNI centre. They included threats, including threats of execution (a pistol was aimed at his temple) and threats to arrest his family.

He often heard his father and relative screaming while they were being tortured. And he heard the voice of a woman who was not his mother, although he was told it was her voice so frequently that eventually he believed it was. (She has not been imprisoned.)

He was held incommunicado throughout the 19 days in a 2m by 2m concrete cell containing a concrete bunk plus a thin mattress. He wore overalls and zapatillas and was forced to wear amask except when alone in his cell. His cell light was always on.

Medical examination and/or attention during detention

Both before he was tortured at the CNI centre and before he left he was given a superficial medical examination, by a doctor, he thought. It included measurement of blood pressure and auscultation of the chest.

His pulse was taken every day he was at the CNI centre. On one occasion he was given tab-lets for diarrhoea.

Early symptoms described

He had aches and pains and felt weak all over, especially in his arms and legs.

After being hit on the mouth he lost an upper tooth, No.24, and the frenulum of his lower lip bled.

He had diarrhoea for three or four days while at the CNI centre. He had pain in the buttocks and near the anus (as a result of kickings, he said). His left testicle too was painful (because of the beatings, he thought).

Throughout his detention he had headaches every day. After being allowed to remove the mask he found his vision was impaired. Periodically he had double vision and his eyes got tired when he read (the letters began to blur after about 10 minutes).

He got retrosternal pain several times a week, and palpitations of tile heart lasting for about 15 minutes, when resting. (This was related to anxiety, he thought.) He had never had such symptoms before. While he was at the CNI centre he lost his sense of time-could not tell night from day. He felt suicidal because of anxiety lest he reveal information. He suffered from insomnia and nightmares and was gloomy, emotionally labile and indifferent.

Present symptoms described

He feels unusually tired and weak and still has pain in his left testicle, although this is diminishing. He gets headaches starting at about noon every day. They are exacerbated by reading, and he still has vision problems: periodic double vision and blurring of letters on the page after he has been reading for about 10 minutes.

He still feels gloomy, emotionally labile and indifferent. He stays at home most of the time and is not involved in anything (partly because he is under surveillance and cannot meet his former friends outside his home).

He suffers from continuing, though less frequent, episodes of precordial pain and palpitations of the heart while resting (probably due to anxiety), and from serious insomnia and nightmares.

Clinical examination

He seemed depressed. Although prepared to cooperate, he was passive, slow and hard to make contact with. He had difficulty expressing himself.

Duration of alleged torture

He said he was tortured on 16 days while at the CNI centre in Santiago.

The clinical examination revealed bad teeth, many of them decayed. There was a large cavity in No.24 and the crown was almost completely gone (see photograph). The lower frenulum of the lip was irregular and had small sores on it. He had muscular pains in the left flank and tenderness in the epididymis.


The medical delegates found consistency between the torture alleged, the symptoms described and the results of the physical examination.