La Plata judge wants Carlotto case
A judge wants to investigate the appropriation of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo head Estela Barnes de Carlotto’s grandson, Ignacio Guido, in the city of La Plata, where his mother was held between the last weeks of 1977 and August 1978. The probe is currently in the hands of BA City’s Federal Judge María Romilda Servini de Cubría, who will have to decide if she hands over the case. Last week, Servini de Cubría told the Herald that she was willing to send the investigation to the La Plata courthouse.
It took almost two weeks to La Plata Federal Judge Manuel Blanco to respond to prosecutors Hernán Schapiro and Marcelo Molina’s request to investigate the appropriation of Ignacio Guido, the 36-year-old man who recovered his real identity on August 5. Blanco yesterday issued a 13-page writ, agreeing to examine the case in La Plata.
Laura Carlotto was abducted on November 26, 1977 in Buenos Aires City. She was first taken to the infamous Navy Mechanics School (ESMA), where she was in captivity for a week before being transferred to the clandestine detention centre known as La Cacha, located next to the Olmos penitentiary unit in the city of La Plata. The 23-year-old girl was taken somewhere else to give birth to her baby, who was born on June 26, 1978. Laura had the baby with her for only five hours before he was snatched by military officers and taken to the city of Olavarría, where he currently lives.
For Blanco, it is clear that Laura Carlotto was held in the city of La Plata and that was where her baby was “put in the hands of somebody else.”
“This is the same place where she was held and where her fate was decided,” the judge added.
In 2012, during the trial regarding the systematic plan to snatch babies during the 1976-1983 dictatorship, the Federal Oral Court Number 6 considered that Laura Carlotto gave birth to the baby she named Guido in the BA City Central Military Hospital. The magistrates based their decision on the testimonies delivered by survivors, who were held at La Cacha with Laura. When she was taken back to the clandestine detention centre, the young woman told them that she thought she had been taken to the military hospital located in the City’s neighbourhood of Palermo.
However, experts do not understand why the repressors would have taken her so far from her detention place. They believe that Laura could have given birth to her baby in the Olmos penitentiary hospital — located a few metres from La Cacha — or to Infantry Regiment Number 7 in the city of La Plata. In both places, there were cases of women held in La Cacha who were taken to give birth.
“We have two hypothesis. One is that Guido could have been born in La Cacha or somewhere nearby. The second is that there was a connection between his birth and appropriation as well as with his mother’s kidnapping and murder,” prosecutor Schapiro said in conversation with the Herald.
A matter of jurisdiction
Blanco’s request to investigate will be reaching Servini de Cubría’s office today or tomorrow. The judge will have to ask prosecutor Carlos Stornelli and Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo’s opinion. The organization headed by Barnes de Carlotto prefers the case to be investigated in La Plata. If Stornelli or Servini de Cubría refuse to hand over the case, the Criminal Appeals Court will be expected to decide.
Moving forward with the investigation
As the Herald reported last week, Servini de Cubría requested the parties involved in the case to suggest new actions to follow.
On Monday, Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo urged Servini de Cubría to order a raid at medical doctor Julio Sacher’s office in Olavarría, a request they had already filed last week before the name of the gynaecologist was leaked to the press. They also asked the magistrate to remove Rafael Sal Lari from the case. Sal Lari, a former judge who faced an impeachment tribunal years ago, is currently Sacher’s lawyer.
Sacher’s name appears on Ignacio’s birth certificate. According to the certificate, Ignacio was born on June 2, 1978 at Carlos Francisco “Pancho” Aguilar’s residence in Olavarría. Aguilar passed away on March 26 and his death was reportedly what triggered the 36-year-old musician’s quest for truth. Aguilar — who was on good terms with the military in that city — was allegedly the person who gave the baby to Juana Rodríguez and Clemente Hurban, who worked as farmhand for him.
Servini de Cubría or Blanco will have to summon 78-year-old Sacher, who used to work for the Buenos Aires provincial police, to be questioned as a suspect to explain how the baby got to Olavarría. Rodríguez and Hurban will also have to give explanations before the court.