Motorized Infantry Regiment No. 23, Copiapó
(Presently, Regiment "Captain Rafael Torreblanca")
Motorized Infantry Regiment No. 23, Copiapó was active from 1973 to 1975 as a place of detention and torture. Interrogations of detainees were carried out there including interrogations of some who were held at other precincts - such as the Copiapó Jail. The prisoners were housed in damp cells, in tiny
spaces "smaller in dimension than a writing desk," according to one detainee. Others indicated that they were isolated in individual military tents outside the dining room of the conscripted and enclosed in a kind of barrack. From there they were taken to the second floor of the regiment building, where they were subjected to torture. Offices of the Military Attorney, the infirmary, and the torture chamber were all located there. Ex
prisoners indicated that they were constantly maltreated, threatened and seldom fed. Those that were not isolated were obliged to do forced labor.
They report the use of diverse forms of torture such as beatings, hangings, cuts with "yataganes" (a kind of hunting knife), application of electricity, being forced to maintain difficult bodily positions for hours, simulated execution, humiliation, and rape. Eye-witness accounts report that those detained by DINA who were found at the regiment were kept apart in a cell known as "el chucho," (customarily kept filthy), deprived of sleep, food, and water. In the testimonies it is mentioned that SIM also operated at the regiment. DINA also utilized the "Agricultural Lands" of the regiment as a
place of detention until 1976. The prisoners there were enclosed in an adobe "shed" in deplorable condition that had been used to shelter horses.
Similarly, the Old Jail was used in this way.
Motorized Infantry Regiment No. 23, Copiapó was also closely associated with the assassination on October 17, 1973 of thirteen political prisoners of that region. They were: Winston Dwight Cabello Bravo (28 years old), Agapito del Carmen Carvajal González (32 years old), Fernando Carvajal Gonzalez (30), Manuel Roberto Cortazar Hernandez (20), Alfonso Ambrosio Gamboa Farias (35), Raul del Carmen Guardia Olivares (23), Raul Leopoldo de Jesús
Larravide Lopez (21), Edwin Ricardo Mancilla Hess (21), Adolfo Mario Palleras Norambuena (27), Jaime Iván Sierra Castillo (27), Atilio Ernesto Ugarte Gutierrez (24), Nestor Leonello Vicenti Cartagena (33), Pedro Emilio Pérez Flores (29). Their bodies remained undiscovered until July 31, 1990.
According to the official version, they had all been killed during an attempted escape. But the Rettig Commission rejected that version and established that from the condition of the bodies when exhumed, it was apparent that these young men could only have been executed under the total control and at the mercy of the military - a finding completely at odds with the official story. The remains of some of them were found mutilated, without evidence of bullet wounds but with clear signs of knife wounds.
Eye-witness accounts: (Political prisoner detained in September 1973) "...I was taken to the regiment quarters. There they tied my feet to my hands behind me. Then they tied a cord from my feet to my open mouth. Using a ribbon, they tightened the cord forcing me to bend backward to an extremely painful and insupportable extreme. Then, with my body in that condition, they hung me from a tree where they kicked and pummeled me with rifles until I lost consciousness...."
(Political prisoner detained in November 1975) "...next transferred to the Regiment of Copiapó (blindfolded), torturing me for days and nights on end with brief intervals between, hitting me with fists, kicks, electric current applied to many parts of my body (nude), strikes against the ears with both hands (holding telephone), being kept standing long hours, wet, beaten, etc....in order to keep me from sleeping...."
Criminals and Accomplices: Lieutenant Colonel Arturo Alvarez Sgolia (Army); Captain Patricio Roman (Army); Carlos Scarate - alias "the blond" (Army).
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