The following is taken from Chile: Evidence of torture: an Amnesty International report, London (Amnesty International Publications)1983, pp. 45-47.


Case No.9


Personal details

He is 28. His father was an officer who resigned after the military coup. He studied history and geography at university, but has not been able to get work as a teacher since graduating in 1979. He therefore became a sales agent. Because of a knee operation, he has been off sick since early 1982. He is married. His wife was pregnant at the time of his arrest. Their child was born 11 days later.

State of health before arrest

His left knee was injured in mid-1973 and he was in hospital for almost a month. After he left hospital he continued to suffer pain in the knee, so his left medial meniscus was removed in early 1982.

Ever since 1973 he has had sporadic "nervous heart" attacks with precordial pain and difficulty in breathing. Apart from this he did not connect any symptoms with his arrest and detention in 1973.

Previous detention and alleged torture

He was arrested and held briefly in 1973 after attending a student meeting which was surrounded by the police. He was kicked and pistol-whipped all over. Afterwards, he was taken to a boat called the "Maipo", where he was not actually ill-treated, although he was held in appalling sanitary conditions.

Time and place of arrest and detention

He was arrested in the first quarter of 1982 and held at the CNI centre in Valparaiso for 10 days. He was then transferred to the CNI centre in Santiago, where he was held for a week. Then he was moved to Valparaiso prison, where he remained until his unconditional release 21 days after arrest.

Duration of alleged torture

He was tortured on 10 days; on four of them the torture was exclusively psychological. He was held incommunicado for 16 days.

Interrogation and torture

His account of events was as follows:

In mid-March five men in plain-clothes who said they were members of SICAR, the Carabineros' intelligence agency, searched his home and removed several of his belongings. No arrest-warrant was shown. He was taken down to a car, hooded and threatened.

They drove him to an old house in Valparaiso, where he was made to sit on a chair to which his hands and feet were tied. He was asked about his personal relationships and kept tied to the chair all night.

He stayed tied to the chair throughout the following day, forced to listen to a cassette recording of a Mexican song played over and over again at full volume. The door was opened loudly a number of times during the day, but those who opened it said nothing to him.

That night he was allowed to go to bed but was tied to it by one hand. During the night he was woken up several times by somebody kicking him in the stomach.

Next day he was tied to the chair again and made to listen to music all day. In the evening, he was interrogated and kicked and beaten, mainly in the abdomen and on the back. He was undressed and electrically tortured for about an hour, primarily on the back and neck.

He sat on the chair throughout the next day, listening to the cassette player. In the evening he was interrogated for an hour and a half. During the interrogation he was punched on the body and neck, hit on the back of the head three or four times, slapped on the face and underwent teléfono from five to 10 times. He was also frequently threatened with "disappearance" and execution.

The next day he was tied to the chair again and made to listen to a loud radio all day. A basic medical examination was carried out by a person who claimed to be a doctor.

He was interrogated for most of the following afternoon. Every time he refused to answer he was punched, mainly on the nose, which bled.

The next day he was interrogated, threatened and insulted, but the day after he was not interrogated - although he was made to spend the entire time sitting tied to a chair.

On the following day a "friendly" interrogator chatted to him all day trying to persuade him to tell the truth and so avoid further torture. Later someone else threatened him again with execution.

He was not interrogated the following day, but the day after his clothes were returned to him and he was made to sign various forms. Then some evidently important person came and shouted that they were incorrectly filled in. All his belongings were again removed and he was taken down to a car. He thought he was going to be killed and felt both frightened and resigned. Instead, however, he was taken to the CNI centre in Santiago where he was given overalls and zapatillas and was blindfolded. He was put in a small concrete cell measuring about 2m by 1.5m. That evening a person he took to be a doctor examined him with a stethoscope and measured his blood pressure, and he was interrogated yet again, this interrogation being far worse than any of the previous ones. He was made to lie on a bed and was severely beaten, including on the knee which had just been operated on. He was electrically tortured more severely than before with two electrodes, one attached to his chest, the other shifted about from his testicles to his right ankle to the lobe of his right ear. Later the picana torture was inflicted with a pencil-shaped object on his face and lips. A dry cloth was put over his mouth and nose a number of times, which made him feel as though he were being suffocated. Each time he nearly fainted. When he was finally taken back to his cell he heard the voice and screams of a friend (also interviewed by the medical delegates-Case No. 1).

He was left in his cell throughout the next two days. Someone who he thought may have been a doctor applied cream to his bruises.

The following day he was interrogated and beaten, in particular on the abdomen and back.

Next day the "doctor" came to his cell and tried to hypnotize him, but, by making a strenuous effort, he managed to resist this.

He was taken to the Fiscalía Militar (Military Prosecutor's Office) the following day and, still blindfold, made to sign some papers.

Next day he was given back his clothes and belongings and driven to the CNI centre in Valparaiso then on to Valparaiso prison, where he was no longer kept in isolation.

He was freed after 21 days but followed by agents for two days after release.

Resumé of interrogation and torture

He was slapped, particularly in the face. He underwent teléfono a number of times. He was frequently punched, once on the neck, once on the nose (which gave him a nosebleed) and many times in the abdomen and on the back, arms and legs. He was frequently kicked, in particular on the buttocks and the knee that had just been operated on.

He was electrically tortured twice: once in Valparaiso for an hour and once in Santiago. The shocks were administered on the lobe of his right ear, chest, testicles, right ankle, neck and back. Picana torture (at a lower voltage) was inflicted too, particularly on the lips, ear-lobes and cheeks.

He was gagged a number of times in such a way that he could not breathe and nearly fainted.

He was partially deprived of sleep the first two nights and made to spend an entire night naked, as well as being naked during several interrogation sessions.

He received many threats. He was threatened with execution and "disappearance", with being tortured in other ways, and with the imprisonment of his wife. He was tortured by noise for many days: forced to hear the same tune on a cassette player again and again at maximum volume.

An attempt was made to hypnotize him, and the "friendly" interrogator tried to get him to give information.

He was kept in isolation and blindfold for 16 days. For the first 10 days he was forced to sit up straight, tied to a chair. Except for the first night, when he was forced to remain sitting, he was allowed to sleep in bed. For his five days in Santiago he was kept in a concrete cell measuring about l.5m by 2m..

Medical examination and/or attention during detention

Once in Valparaiso and the first day in Santiago he was examined by someone claiming to be a doctor. During his final days at the CNI centre in Santiago he was given ointment to rub on his skin in order, he thought, to hasten the disappearance of his bruises.

Early symptoms described

After being tortured he was tired and stiff, felt sore all over and could hardly move. Near both elbows were two parallel blue stripes which he said were the result of the tight binding of his arms with cord during torture. The cords were tied especially tightly during electric torture when his arms moved involuntarily. There were bruises on the right hypogastrium, as well as medially on the left leg just under the knee. His nose bled after being punched, his lip was swollen for a week and his ears itched and were scaly in the auditory canal. He suffered from precordial pain in the chest, without radiation, and had difficulty breathing for about half an hour several times a week. This happened particularly at night, and he himself believed it was due to anxiety since he had had similar anxiety attacks before being arrested. He had nightmares and his memory was somewhat impaired. Just after he was released he found himself forgetting small matters, such as where he had put things, appointments and telephone numbers. He was emotionally labile, irritable and aggressive.

Present symptoms described

He still has slight discomfort in his left knee and pain in the medial part of his left calf, where he can feel a hard lump near the tibia. He suffers from "nervous" attacks of difficulty in breathing about once a week. His memory is slightly impaired.

Clinical examination (one month after the alleged torture)

He was well-balanced and relaxed, cooperated with the interviewer and was able to give a clear and detailed account of what had happened to him.

There was some soreness in the medial anterior cleft of his left knee, and a slight atrophy of the quadriceps muscle. On the medial side of the left tibia, between 16cm and 19cm below the knee, there was a 3cm by 2cm hard, indolent lump, unattached to the skin and tibia (it felt very much like an organized haematoma). The skin over the knot was unchanged.

Medial to this area and between 12cm and 16cm distal to the knee joint a 5cm-long, 1cm-diameter, rod-shaped indolent swelling could be felt (probably an area of superficial phlebitis).

Near both elbows were two sets of two light brown pigmented parallel stripes 1cm wide and separated by 2cm, crossing each other approximately in the middle of the bend of the elbow.


The medical delegates found consistency between the torture alleged, the symptoms described and the clinical findings.