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Jaime Eugenio Robotham Bravo
Claudio Francisco Thauby Pacheco

Jaime Robotham Bravo and Claudio Thauby Pacheco, former sociology students at the University of Chile and members of the Socialist Party were arrested at about 7.00pm on 31 December 1974 on the corner of Sucre and Miguel Angel Streets in Santiago by heavily armed members of the Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA), Directorate of National Intelligence. Jaime Robotham was hit with a rifle butt as he tried to resist arrest. The two were taken to the Villa Grimaldi where they were seen by a number of witnesses.

According to witnesses, the two men were brutally tortured. A pencil was reportedly thrust into Claudio Thauby's navel and pushed up towards his ribs. One witness testified to having seen him being badly beaten the night of his arrival at the Villa Grimaldi particularly around the ears. This appeared to have caused balancing difficulties and resulted in him needing two people to hold him up. Another detainee related hearing that Claudio Thauby had died under torture. In declarations she made to the National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, Luz Arce Sandoval - one-time member of the Socialist Party who turned informer after being arrested and tortured by the DINA - reported hearing one of his torturers telling him that "he was going to learn how traitors died" (''iba a aprender como morían los traidores''). Claudio Thauby had previously been a cadet at the Military Academy at the same time as one of his torturers. Jaime Robotham was beaten and repeatedly subjected to electric shocks. A detainee reported seeing him in a terrible state. It was known that he had been taken to ''The Tower'' (La Torre) in Villa Grimaldi. He was seen being taken out of Villa Grimaldi together with Julio Fidel Flóres Pérez and Herbit Ríos Soto. The three men were never seen again.

Press reports carried on 12 July 1975 stated that the charred bodies of two people who had been shot had been found inside a car 45 kilometres northeast of Buenos Aires, Argentina. They were said to be carrying identification cards with their names, ''Luis Alberto Wendelman Wisnik'' and ''Jaime Eugenio Robostan Bravo''. A note with the bodies read, ''Executed by the MIR'' (Dados de baja por el MIR''). The documents found on the bodies were said to be those of Jaime Eugenio Robotham Bravo and Luis Alberto Guendelman Wisniak, another Chilean ''disappeared'' prisoner. The Chilean press said that finding the bodies confirmed that many individuals who counted as disappeared, in fact clandestinely left the country. The reports added that the identity of the bodies had been confirmed by the Chilean authorities and that ''Amnesty International would just have to rub their names off its list of disappeared people in Chile''(45). Relatives who travelled to Argentina to identify the bodies found that they were not those of their relatives and that the documents were forgeries that were full of mistakes. The National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation notes that the identification photograph for Robotham Bravo had been taken when he was a teenager. His mother had given it to a member of the investigative police who had come to her house several times claiming that he was investigating the ''disappearance'' of her son and saying that he needed a passport-sized photograph of him.

In July 1975, the Chilean press published a list of 119 people said to have died in ''armed confrontations between extremists'' in various Latin American countries. The list was said to have been reprinted from one that appeared in the Argentinean magazine Lea and the Brazilian newspaper Novo o Dia. Subsequent inquiries revealed that Lea was the first (and only) edition of a magazine that did not legally exist and that Novo O Dia only appeared intermittently. Among the names was that of Jaime Robotham. The names corresponded to those of 119 people arrested by the DINA between June 1974 and February 1975 who subsequently ''disappeared''. Many of those listed had been seen in secret detention centres after their arrest and it became clear that the articles were part of a plan by the DINA to persuade Chilean and international opinion that allegations of ''disappearances'' were untrue.

Relatives' recourse to the judiciary yielded no results. In the case of Jaime Robotham, a recurso de amparo submitted in January 1975 to the Santiago Appeals Court was rejected nearly three months later. The family had submitted evidence that Jaime Robotham had been seen in the Villa Grimaldi but the various government agencies continued to deny that he had been detained. The case was sent to the 8th Criminal Court in Santiago where it was temporarily closed in October 1975. Two complaints for presumed misadventure (denuncias por presunta desgracia) that had also been submitted in January 1975 were subsequently archived. In August 1976, relatives asked for the case to be reopened on the basis that two former prisoners were willing to testify to having seen Jaime Robotham in the Villa Grimaldi but their request was denied.

In April 1991, relatives of Jaime Robotham Bravo submitted a criminal complaint for aggravated kidnapping, prolonged incommunicado detention, arbitrary detention, and falsification of documents (querella criminal por los delitos de secuestro agravado, incomunicación prolongada, detención arbitraria y falsificación de documentos públicos).

Relatives' appeals to the courts during the 1970s on behalf of Claudio Thauby Pacheco were similarly unsuccessful. In March 1991, a criminal complaint for aggravated abduction, prolonged incommunicado detention, unnecessary force and arbitrary detention (secuestro agravado, incomunicación prolongada, rigor innecesario y detención arbitraria) was submitted to the 8th Criminal Court of Santiago. In the complaint, the relatives called for the people who had seen Claudio Thauby in detention to testify. None of them had been called by the court that had originally carried out the investigations to corroborate their statements.

In March 2000, a criminal complaint to the courts for the abduction and "disappearance" of the two men was submitted against Augusto Pinochet and other senior DINA officers.

On 9 July 2001 Judge Juan Guzmán Tapia charged five senior members of the DINA for the abduction of 12 government opponents and for illicit association. Claudio Thauby Pacheco is among the 12 cases. The accused are: Manuel Contreras, retired general and former director of the DINA, retired army general Miguel Krassnoff Marchenko, retired colonel Marcelo Moren Brito, retired army officer Basclay Zapata and civilian agent Osvaldo Romo Mena.

(45) "Amnistía Internacional no tendrá otra cosa que borrar sus nombres de la lista de personas desaparecidas en Chile".

Source; Amnesty International – Document: AI Index: AMR 22/014/2001 dated 10 December 2001 – Titled ; CHILE - Testament to suffering and courage: the long quest for justice and truth


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