Sixth Hearing – Monday, July 23
julio 23, 2007
The persecution of the “Graiver Group”
Two members of Graiver family, as well as a former employee of the family’s business testified today regarding their detention and the torture, the involvement of civilians in the operation of Clandestine Detention Centers, and their trial before a special war council.
Silvia Fanjul’s Testimony
Today’s first testimony was heard from Silvia Fanjul, an employee in the administrative division of the Graiver’s company during the military dictatorship. Fanjul described the situation at the office on March 14, 1977 as “chaotic”: David Graiver was dead, his father Juan had just been kidnapped and Lidia Papaleo and Isidoro Graiver aware that they were in great danger, were hiding.
That day, a police commission arrived at the office late in the afternoon and asked Fanjul to come with them. She calmly complied, believing that she was not in any danger.
“They only gave me electric shocks twice, but everything was torture”
Fanjul was then blindfolded, thrown into a car and driven to a Clandestine Detention Center which she later learned was called “Puesto Vasco.” She was told that Juan Graiver and Jorge Rubinstein—the family lawyer—were also being held there. She was then brutally interrogated by the officers, who demanded that she disclose the location of other Graiver family members and employees, and that she provide information regarding the company’s activities and finances.
Fanjul claimed that Cossani, Rousse and Camps were among those who interrogated her: “That’s why I filed my complaint with the Ministry of Defense, it seemed important to emphasize that general Camps was in the Clandestine Detention Center.”
The witness also recalled being tortured again at a later date, but insisted that the long waits between sessions were just as terrifying as the torture itself, especially when she was deprived of water – an idication that further electric shock sessions were iminent. She also referred to the death of family lawyer Jorge Rubenstein, who, according to her statement, “never came out of one of the interrogation sessions.”
After 20 days at Puesto Vasco, Fanjul was transferred to another Clandestine Detention Center called Pozo de Banfield, where she was forced to testify before Oscar Bartolomé Gallino the “head” of an apparent military tribunal that was overseeing the Graiver affair. Fanjul did note, however, that treatment at the Banfield was a bit more humane, as prisoner’s families were often alerted of their situations: “That’s when I say they started to [fatten us up]”
Lidia Brodsky de Graiver’s Testimony
Lidia Brodsky de Graiver reported in her testimony that she was also taken to Puesto Vasco and interrogated about the names of people she had encountered, though her ties with company employees were in reality limited to those which existed through her husband, Isidoro Graiver.
She insisted in an interrogation session that she could only recall one suspicious occurrence, in which Lidia Papaleo had commented on a call from “dangerous people,” referring to the Montoneros. The interrogator, apparently pleased with the response, told Lidia Brodsky de Graiver: “you just saved yourself.” The witness also recalled seeing her father Enrique Brodsky once at Puesto Vasco. Blindfolded and lined up against a wall, she asked that he be given leniency, as he had heart problems.
Lidia Brodsky de Graiver was eventually released but months later officers returned looking for her, claiming that Vivanco, the secretary of the war council, wanted to talk to her. They took her to a police processing center where she spent the night in a cell before facing the war council, which condemned her to four and one half years imprisonment for concealment of illegal dealings. She served the sentence in the Humberto Primo, Ezeiza, and Devoto prisons, under extremely poor conditions.
Isidoro Graiver’s Testimony
In his testimony, Isidoro Graiver described his quarters in Puesto Vasco as “more a hole than a cell,” a three square meter cubicle with a latrine which he shared with three other (his father Juan Graiver, family lawyer Jorge Rubinstein, and Francisco Fernández). Fernández would later see Jorge Rubinstein’s lifeless body being removed from the torture room.
Isidoro Graiver stated that during his interrogation sessions, officers would randomly accuse prisoners of having international ties with various figures of the left-wing including the French actor Yves Montand: “I don’t know whether they were on drugs or drunk,” Graiver summarized. Graiver also recalled being asked whether he had had any business dealing with Jacobo Timerman.
Graiver said he learned about Christian Von Wernich’s visits to the Clandestine Detention Center from Timerman’s account. He added that anyone who entering the place had to be aware of what was occurring, as screams from the torture room could be heard from all the cells.
Graiver spent a total of 20 days in Puesto Vasco and a similar period in Pozo de Banfield, part of an overall imprisonment of some five years, four months and one week that he served after facing a war council. Having actually been condemned to 15 years of prison for “financial assistance to subversion,” his sentence was later reversed by the Supreme Court.
Graiver offered the following conclusion to his testimony:
“The fact that we are now examining a sad episode of our past is important in my opinion. Individual and personal suffering is not what counts the most. What counts is that light be shed on a nefarious system, that supported the extermination of those who fell in disgrace and trials in which the defense and sentences were orchestrated. I’m not convinced that they wanted to kill Rubinstein, I think they were simply animals who knew they benefited from total impunity. So the fact that we are now in a trial in which the accused has every possibility to defend himself makes me very satisfied…”