Washington College of Law|
Center For Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
RESOLUTION No 11/84
Case No 9274 (URUGUAY)
October 3, 1984
- On April 19, 1984, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights cabled the Government of Uruguay to transmit the following
denunciation that had been received by telephone:
CASE 9274 - INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS HAS
RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING DENUNCIATION: "IN THE EARLY MORNING OF
APRIL 15, 1984, TEN PERSONS WERE ARRESTED IN SAN JAVIER AND
REMOVED TO THE NINTH CAVALRY REGIMENT IN FRAY BENTOS. ON APRIL
16, THE WIFE OF CITIZEN AND SURGEON VLADIMIR ROSLIK WAS INFORMED
THAT HER HUSBAND HAD DIED. THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE ARMY
DECLARED THAT MISTER ROSLIK HAD BEEN DETAINED FOR QUESTIONING
AND THAT HE DIED OF CARDIAC ARREST. THERE IS CONCERN FOR THE
SAFETY OF THE OTHER DETAINEES: ESTEBAN BALACHIR, ROMAN KLISOV,
JUAN CHAMALOV, PEDRO MARSCENIOK, BASILIO JACINA, GMORENKI AND
WE REQUEST THAT YOUR EXCELLENCY KINDLY SUPPLY THE
YOU DEEM APPROPRIATE AT YOUR EARLIEST CONVENIENCE. WE WISH TO
ADVISE YOUR EXCELLENCY THAT ACCORDING TO ARTICLE 31 OF THE
REGULATIONS OF THE COMMISSION, THIS REQUEST FOR INFORMATION DOES
NOT CONSTITUTE A PREJUDGMENT ON THE ADMISSIBILITY OF THE
I TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO CONVEY TO YOUR EXCELLENCY THE
EXPRESSIONS OF MY HIGHEST CONSIDERATION.
EDMUNDO VARGAS CARRE[O
- On May 8, 1984, the Commission sent the Government of
Uruguay the following additional information that has been received
from the claimants:
The death of Vladimir Roslik was not due to natural causes, nor
to an accident while undergoing torture. Vladimir Roslik, a
35-year-old physician, was arrested on April 14, 1984, by
members of the Uruguayan army and his corpse was returned to his
family two days later.
Some days ago, an autopsy carried out at the request of the
family by a medical team that included representatives of the
relatives of the deceased confirmed that the death had been
brought about by torture. According to the claimants, the
autopsy revealed that Roslik's lungs contained water and
presented signs of asphyxia resulting from immersion; this
pointed to the fact that he had been subjected to a form of
torture known as THE SUBMARINE, which consists of submerging the
victim in buckets of water.
They added, however, that the vast amount of water found in the
lungs confirmed that it had not been caused by an unexpected
development during a torture session, for experience with other
deaths caused by the SUBMARINE torture shows that the victims'
lungs never retain such a large volume of water.
The conviction that death resulted from torture was arrived at
on the basis of the conclusions reached by the give doctors in
charge of the autopsy: Doctors Mojoli, Montaubam, Burgel, Zuast
and Laluz. The five physicians all agreed that the Mr. Vladimir
Roslik's corpse showed unmistakable signs of having been
subjected to diverse forms of extreme violence.
- In the months that followed, the Commission continued to
receive additional denunciations concerning these same facts under
Furthermore, since the case had aroused much interest among the
press, the Commission was urged to demand of the Uruguayan Government
"an urgent public explanation and an exhaustive investigation to
define responsibilities in this case."
- On May 16, 1984, the Commission received the following
written report in support of the previous telephoned denunciation by
the claimants regarding Dr. Roslik's arrest and death:
It is reported that at approximately 4:00 a.m. on Sunday, April
15, 1984, a military command from the 9th Cavalry Regiment of
Fray Bentos, the capital of the Department, came to the home
located in Colonia San Javier (Río Negro, Uruguay), in order to
arrest Vladimir Roslik.
Husband and wife were resting with their 4-month-old son. When
they rang the bell, the husband got up and opened the door.
There he was informed by the officer in charge of the unit that
they had come to arrest him for questioning. He got dressed
and, without offering any resistance, was hooded and led away
in handcuffs by the soldiers.
The members of the command made a rapid search of the house and,
on being asked what they were looking for, answered that they
had come to see if there were any arms. They found nothing and
all they took away was a medical kit belonging to Roslik, who
was a doctor and practised medicine in that area.
Later on, when she realized that Roslik was not carrying any
documents, Mrs. Roslik went to the Police Station and handed her
husband's identity card to the officer who had taken part in the
process. She was there informed that the events under
investigation occurred before 1980. She expressed concern at
that, for her husband had been arrested at that time and
subjected to torture by the same unit, being tried by the
Military Justice for the crime of Aiding the Subversive
On Monday, April 16, at 6:00 a.m, they informed her through the
Police Station that she could come by the Fray Bentos Hospital
to take away her husband's body, for he had died. Once in the
hospital, she demanded an explanation of what had happened from
Dr. Sainz, the doctor of the Fray Bentos Barracks, without
obtaining any reply. From what the nurses told her, her husband
was already dead upon arrival at the hospital. An autopsy was
performed there, the findings of which are as shown on the death
She immediately asked the Commanding Officer for a new autopsy,
to be performed by doctors who could offer some guarantees; thus
was authorized. She then spoke with Dr. Jorge Burgel in
Paysandú and travelled to Paysandú with her husband's body. The
second autopsy, performed with judicial authorization, took
place in the Morgue with Dr. Burgel's participation. The
results of the autopsy were not made known to her at the time,
but she was aware that minutes had been taken whose contents
were kept confidential for the time being.
- A copy of the death certificate issued by the military
physician, Dr. Eduardo Sainz, certifying that the cause of death
resulted from a "cardiac-respiratory arrest", was submitted to the
IACHR as evidence together with the above additional information.
The certificate in question has several formal errors. It does not
show the time, date or place of death; it does not state whether an
autopsy was performed; it does not indicate whether death occurred
in a public institution and neither does it bear the signature of the
physician who attended Roslik.
- This additional information was transmitted to the
Uruguayan Government on June 4, 1984, with the request that it
provide a copy of the autopsy performed on doctor Roslik within a
term of 60 days. The Uruguayan Government did not respond to this
new request for information, despite the fact that it was repeated
in a note dated July 9, 1984, which also notified the Government of
the possible application of Article 30 of the Regulations of the
Commission, if the information requested was not received within a
reasonable period of time.
- At the same time, the Commission also asked the claimants
for a copy of the autopsy performed, in a letter dated June 4, 1984.
- In a communication dated September 10, 1984, the claimants
provided copies of the autopsies performed on Doctor Roslik.
- The period of time specified in Article 31 of the
Regulations of the Commission has elapsed without a reply from the
Uruguayan Government to the request for information made by the
Commission by cable dated April 19, 1984 and repeated in
communications dated June 4 and July 9, 1984, all of which leads to
the assumption that there are no domestic remedies to be exhausted.
- Article 39 of the Commission's Regulations provides as
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 different
- The remaining facts support the conclusion that the events
denounced truly occurred, as shall be seen below.
The forensic doctor, Dr. Eduardo Sainz, "supernumerary
police physician" carried out the first autopsy on April 16,
1984, at 5:45 a.m., at the Fray Bentos Hospital. Dr. Sainz'
conclusion was as follows: "To summarize: the autopsy only
reveals very slight, unspecific signs of asphyxia, without
violence, compatible with a death resulting from
- The second autopsy was performed in Paysandú, also on April
16, 1984, at 17 hours, by Aníbal J. Mojoli, public service
physician, Dr. Adolfo Maontauban, physician of the Police Health
Department, and Dr. Gonzalo Zuast, the Public Service
Supernumerary. The second autopsy was carried out in the
presence of Doctors Eduardo Laluz and Eduardo Sainz, physicians
of the Military Health Department, and Dr. Jorge Burgel, who
attended at the request of the family. The second autopsy found
"direct and indirect signs of asphyxia"; according to this
autopsy "cause of death: acute anaemia; asphyxia syndrome".
In a second autopsy performed under the conditions stated, it
is impossible to determine which of these two elements was
responsible, or whether their damage-inducing association may
have been ultimate cause of death."
- On April 17, 1984, Dr. Eduardo Sainz made a study of the
signs observed in both autopsies and concluded as follows:
"Hepatic docimasy should have been present if we speak of acute
anaemia. The elements of asphyxia are unspecific and are to be
found in death from cardiac-respiratory arrest." On April 19,
1984, doctors Montaubanm Zuasti and Mojoli responded to a
request from the Court by insisting that "In the autopsy report
issued earlier by the undersigned, it is clearly stated that
signs of an asphyxia syndrome are present and not that death
was caused exclusively by asphyxia, but rather that the
association of the lesions found concurred, through acute
anaemia and asphyxia syndrome, and determine the ultimate
causes of death."
- On May 7, 1984, doctors José Mutone and Augusto Soisa,
appointed forensic doctors by writ of the Military Tribunal of the
5th Instance, concluded as follows:
In view of the foregoing and in reply to the questions posed by
the Judge, we conclude that:
- It was a violent death brought about by multiple causes:
- a fluid similar in aspect to that found in the stomach had
entered the bronchial tubes; when the subject inhaled it
while still alive, this fluid obstructed the windpipe and
resulted in acute asphyxia, which quickly proved fatal.
- there was a laceration in the liver, like a sub capsular
hematoma, that resulted in a withdrawal of blood from the
- the marks of multiple superficial and deep traumatisms were
- All of the above causes contributed to bring about death;
they are so interrelated that it is impossible to separate them.
- The external and internal signs on the corpse that are the
basis of these conclusions have been described in the
transcripts of the autopsy reports and the forensic medical
considerations to which we refer.
- Although it is not prudent in forensic medicine to deduce
functional facts on the basis of physiological (...) and
psychological (...) substantiations, any sudden intake of liquid
into the windpipe, however slight, may, besides bringing on
asphyxia as a result of the obstruction of the windpipe, also
lead to an unleashing of abnormal reflexes from the larynx and
the bronchial tubes which, upon clashing against the vital
centers (respiratory, cardiovascular), could end in a
- the withdrawal of blood from the general circulation acts
with great speed and because of its volume (the loss of one
liter of blood is more serious if it occurs over a period of
hours than days) has the effect of a clashing accident, acting
as an additional injury that further destabilizes the condition
of the individual.
- it is understood that in a state of critical lack of
equilibrium and danger to life any other lesion, however
insignificant of itself, will contribute to aggravation and
These experts believe that all of these causes acted to a
greater or lesser degree to bring about such a state of organic
disequilibrium that they finally led to the death of the
- On May 29, 1984, Col. Federico Silva Ledesma, President of
the Supreme Military Court, at a press conference publicly confirmed
the indictment of two army officers charged with the death of Dr.
Vladimir Roslik. The indictments were drawn up on the basis of half
proof of the alleged crimes. The names of the officers were not revealed, but the
press indicated that they are the Head of the Fray Bentos Barracks,
Col. Mario Olivera, and Major Sergio Caubarrere, who directed the
operation carried out on April 15 in San Javier. One of the officers
was indicted for "ultra intentional homicide" and the other for
"irregularities in the service". Up to now, September 1984, it is
not known whether sentence has been passed in either of these two
- The results of the first autopsy were contradicted by the
second one which was carried out the same day of Dr. Roslik's death
at the request of his relatives. The analysis submitted to the Court
concludes that Dr. Roslik's death was caused by violent acts which
were not refuted by the Government, since Col. Silva Ledesma himself
acknowledged the Government's responsibility when he announced on May
29, 2984, that two officers had been indicted because of that death.
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
- To consider that enough facts exist to demonstrate that the
Government of Uruguay is responsible for the torture and death of Dr.
- To declare that such an act and the way in which it was
carried out constitute a grave violation of Article I (Right to life,
liberty and personal security), Article IX (Right to inviolability
of the home), Article XVIII (Right to a fair trial) and Article XXV
(Right of protection from arbitrary arrest) of the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.
- To recommend that the Government of Uruguay inform the
Commission of the results of the investigation and the punishment
applied to the parties responsible.
- To transmit this Resolution to the Government of Uruguay.
- If the Government of Uruguay does not supply information
regarding the measures adopted within 90 days, the Commission shall
include this Resolution in the Commission's Annual Report to the
General Assembly, pursuant to Article 59 (g) of the Regulations of