- Through a communication of September 15, l981, the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received the following
MARIA TERESA CERVI[O disappeared on April 26, l976 when she drove off in her automobile in Lomas de Zamora, Buenos Aires Province, to do some shopping. Neither she nor her car have been seen again. She was twenty-nine years old.
In spite of persistent efforts and inquiries, it was impossible to obtain any specific information. In reply to various statements presented, the Ministry of the Interior invariably asserted that the woman was not being held. General Videla personally told her mother the same thing in May l976. However, during the same period, Monsignor Antonio Plaza, Archbishop of La Plata, informed the family that Maráa Teresa had been held in the police precinct of Lomas de Zamora, but that she had been moved.
In May l981, five years after the act was committed and as a consequence of further demands by the family, the Ministry of the Interior mailed the mother a note signed by Commander Sosa, which read as follows:
"Maráa Teresa Cervi]o died on April 28, l976 in the jurisdiction of the police precinct of Lomas de Zamora. A homicide case is being tried in the Criminal Court No. 2, Secretariat 3 of Banfield, Buenos Aires Province."
An examination of the case reveals:
- On April 28, l976, two days after her disappearance,
the body of Maráa Teresa Cervi]o was found hanged from a
pedestrian bridge over the railroad in Avellaneda. The police
of Lomas de Zamora entered into the case. The head and the body
were wrapped in polyethylene; a rope was around the neck; the
hands were tied behind; the eyes were covered with adhesive
tape. There was a placard that read "I was a guerrilla. Follow
- The case was handled by the Criminal Court of First
Instance No. 2 of Banfield, province of Buenos Aires, at that
time under the direction of Dr. RaÜl F. Varesio, Seretariat of
Dr. Julio E. Virgolini, with the participation of the District
Attorney, Dr. Lorenzo Antonio Romillo.
Also on April 28 the victim was identified through the federal police. The police also revealed her place of residence as San Miguel de Tucum@n, the same as that of her parents. An autopsy was made, the bullets were studied by experts, the body was buried, and for all practical purposes the proceedings were concluded. All this was accomplished with unusual speed.
Following repeated requests to the director of the cemetery of Avellaneda, who delayed a month in revealing the place of burial, the file on the case was returned to the Court on June 29. On July 3, Judge Varosio, ordered the case dismissed without prejudice to the presentation of new evidence.
There is no doubt that serious irregularities were committed in handling the case. The rules of the Code of Criminal Procedure were not met; no time was allowed for producing evidence; and, finally, the family was not informed of the victim's death.
It is extremely suspicious that in a single day, April 28, l976, the body was discovered, instructions were issued through the summary proceedings, and the autopsy and burial of the body
took place, without calling the relatives, whose address was known through the identification that was made also on that day. The rapidity of these actions, designed to violate criminal laws, concealed the facts, so that no one would be able to step forward to see to proper fulfillment of the investigations and to determination and punishment of the authorities responsible for the crime.
- Through a note of October 2, l981, the IACHR transmitted
the pertinent parts to the Government of Argentina, requesting it to
furnish the Commission with the corresponding information, and also
with any other evidence that would enable it to determine if the
domestic jurisdiction had been exhausted.
- The IACHR has in its possession a summary of the
proceedings No. 5234 for l976, file 106, of Buenos Aires Province.
It also has a copy of the petition presented on July 10, l981 in the
Criminal Court of First Instance No. 2, Secretariat No. 3, of
Banfield, Buenos Aires Province, for reopening Case 5234 of l976,
bearing the title "Cervi]o, Maráa Teresa, homicide victim."
- The Commission repeated its request for information to the Argentine Government on May 27, l982, stating that if no response were forthcoming within a reasonable time, the Commission would consider application of Article 39 of the Regulations of the Commission, concerning presumption of the truth of the acts reported. The contents of this note were reiterated by the IACHR on February 28, l983.
- To date the Government of Argentina has not replied to the
request for information contained in the Commission's notes of
October 2, l981, May 27, l982, and February 28, l983; and
- Article 39 of the Regulations of the Commission establishes as follows:
Article 39 (Presumption)
The facts reported in the petition whose pertinent parts
have been transmitted to the government of the state in
reference shall be presumed to be true if, during the maximum
period set by the Commission under the provisions of Article 31
paragraph 5, the government has not provided the pertinent
information, as long as other evidence does not lead to a
- To presume the facts reported in the communication of
September, l981 to be true, concerning the irregular circumstances
in which Miss Maráa Teresa Cervi]o died.
- To observe to the Government of Argentina that these acts
constitute extremely serious violations of the right to life,
liberty, and personal security (Article I); the right to a fair trial
(Article XVIII); and the right of protection against arbitrary arrest
(Article XXV) of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties
- To recommend to the Government of Argentina: a. that it
order a complete and impartial investigation to determine who
perpetrated the acts reported; b. that it punish those responsible
for these acts, in accordance with the laws of Argentina; and c. that
it inform the Commission within a period of no more than sixty days
on the steps taken to put into practice the recommendations set forth
in this resolution.
- To inform the Government of Argentina and the complainants
of this resolution.
- To include this resolution in the Annual Report to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, in accordance with Article 59 (g) of the Regulations of the Commission, without precluding the fact that the Commission may reconsider the case at its next session, in the light of the measures taken by the government.