RESOLUTION Nº 11/84
October 3, 1984
1. 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:
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 THREE
REQUEST THAT YOUR EXCELLENCY KINDLY SUPPLY THE INFORMATION 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 PETITION.
TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO CONVEY TO YOUR EXCELLENCY THE EXPRESSIONS OF MY
SEPULVEDA EDMUNDO VARGAS CARREÑO
2. On May 8, 1984,
the Commission sent the Government of Uruguay the following additional
information that has been received from the claimants:
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.
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.
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.
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.
3. In the months
that followed, the Commission continued to receive additional
denunciations concerning these same facts under investigation.
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."
4. 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:
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.
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.
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.
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 Association.
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
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
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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. At the same
time, the Commission also asked the claimants for a copy of the autopsy
performed, in a letter dated June 4, 1984.
8. In a
communication dated September 10, 1984, the claimants provided copies of
the autopsies performed on Doctor Roslik.
1. 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
2. Article 39 of
the Commission's Regulations provides as follows:
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 conclusion.
3. The remaining
facts support the conclusion that the events denounced truly occurred,
as shall be seen below.
a) 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
b) 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."
c) 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."
4. 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:
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 general
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
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 death.
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 individual.
5. 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
6. 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, 1984, that two officers had
been indicted because of that death.
INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, RESOLVES:
1. To consider
that enough facts exist to demonstrate that the Government of Uruguay is
responsible for the torture and death of Dr. Vladimir Roslik.
2. 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.
3. To recommend
that the Government of Uruguay inform the Commission of the results of
the investigation and the punishment applied to the parties responsible.
4. To transmit
this Resolution to the Government of Uruguay.
5. 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 the Commission.