"Automotores Orletti": The Trial Begins

On 3 June 2010 the trial for the crimes committed in the secret detention center "Automotores Orletti", an enclave of the Plan Condor, began before the Federal Criminal Court (TOF) N.1 in the city of Buenos Aires. Five former members of the Army and the Secret Services stand accused of illegal deprivation of freedom, torture and the homicide of 65 victims. According to the Calendar of the Court, the reading of the indictment lasted until 17 June 2010. This is followed by the testimonies of the defendants. The victims and witnesses will begin testifying on 8 July 2010.

"Automotores Orletti" also called "El taller" or "El jardín", was a former garage located in a district of Buenos Aires, La Floresta. Its real name was "Automotores Cortell". From May 1976 on it was used as secret detention center housing around 200 political prisoners from countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia or even Cuba. Detainees were subjected to intense torture which sometimes resulted in their death. In November 1976 two detainees escaped, forcing the closure of the center.

The Center was created and lead by Aníbal Gordon (now deceased), a.k.a "Silva", a former member of the SIDE (Argentine Service of Intelligence), by order of the then-Secretary General of the organization, Otto Paladino (now deceased). The SIDE, along with the Secret Intelligence Services of Uruguay, used the center as an enclave of the Plan Condor, a supranational coordination between the respective governments and intelligence services of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia that was created to eliminate political opponents.

On 3 June 2010 the trial for crimes committed the center began before the Federal Criminal Court N.1 of Buenos Aires. The defendants, under preventive detention until a final sentence is passed, are indicted on charges of illegal deprivation of freedom, torture and the homicide of 65 victims. They are: Rubén Víctor Visuara (aged 76), former Colonel of the Army, Eduardo Rodolfo Cabanillas (aged 66), former Major General of the Army, the former civilian agents of the Secretary of Intelligence (SIDE) Honorio Carlos Martínez Ruiz (aged 60) a.k.a "Pájaro" or "Pajarovich", Raúl Antonio Guglielminetti (aged 66) a.k.a "Guastavino" or "El Ronco" and Eduardo Alfredo Ruffo (aged 64) a.k.a "Capitán" or "Zapato". Some of them were members of the Triple A (Argentine Anticommunist Alliance), an extreme right organization devoted to the elimination of communism through illegal methods such as abductions, murder and terrorist attacks. A sixth defendant, Néstor Horacio Guillamondegui (aged 75), the former Commodore of the Argentine Air Force, was declared unable to face trial.

Among the 65 victims are Marcelo Ariel Gelman (aged 20), the son of the poet Juan Gelman, and his wife, María Claudia García (aged 19) who was 7-months pregnant at the time of their abduction. The couple were abducted on 24 August 1976 and transferred to "Orletti". In October 1976 Marcelo was murdered. His corpse was exhumed in 1989. María Claudia Garcia was transferred to Montevideo, where her daughter María Macarena was born and given to a Captain's family. After a tireless search by her grandparents and relatives, Macarena finally recovered her identity in 2000. María Claudia is still missing.


  • "Automotores Orletti"
  • Argentina
  • homicide
  • secret detention cernter
  • TOF
  • torture

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