Jorge Acosta and the murder of Dagmar Hagelin

Based on the article:
TRASLADO - Almost after 20 years: Dagmar's murderer exposed
By: Peter Torbiörnsson.
DAGENS NYHETER, Stockholm. Section E, page 4.
Date: Sunday, March 10th, 1996

[Thanks to Juan-Manuel Suárez]

20 years after the coup, the responsible for the death and torture of thousands of victims are free. Many of them serve in very high positions in the Argentine military forces and civil administration. This may be the reason why people living close to the site where Dagmar Hagelin was kidnapped show an evident fear. Even 13 years after democracy was restored, it is difficult to find people who dare to talk about what happened the morning she disappeared. Some of them say: "These soldiers are still armed. Who knows when that nightmare is going to repeat itself?"

Dagmar Hagelin was shot on January 26th, 1977 by Alfredo Astiz, a member of task force 332 (GT332), based in the Navy Mechanics School (Spanish initials: ESMA: Escuela Mecanica de La Armada, a secret detention center, and extermination camp in the capital Buenos Aires). She was carried to the ESMA, wounded but alive. At least three survivors of the ESMA saw Dagmar and talked to her in captivity. She was mentally sound and her physical condition was improving when she was finally killed by her captors.

Prisioners didn't last for too long in the ESMA: the average time was between 10 and 20 days. After that short "assesment" period of torture, they were "TRASLADADOS" (transferred, in Spanish) - a sinister euphemism the murderers used, just like the Nazis did 30 years earlier, to mean death.

According to the confessions of the ex-navy captain Adolfo Scilingo, documented by investigative reporter Horacio Verbitski, in his book "El Vuelo" (The Flight) most victims were cremated at the ESMA sports playing ground and their ashes were thrown into the waters of Rio de la Plata, about 200 m away. The cremation was known as a "grill". Many others were thrown out of navy planes, alive, into the Atlantic.

Dagmar Hagelin was kidnapped by mistake, an unfortunate misidentification, (but then the ovewhelming majority of those who were correctly "identified" were just as innocent.) Her disapperance became an international problem; when the Argentine vice minister of foreign affairs came to the ESMA, at the beginning of February, to inquire about the situation of Dagmar, the navy captain Jorge Eduardo Acosta, chief of the GT332 unit, told him: "Letting her free is out of the question, we must not give in to public opinion. We must appear strong".

Acosta made it clear that Dagmar couldn't be released, because she could talk about what she saw was going on at the ESMA. This was corroborated by Inés Carazzo, a survivor of the ESMA concentration camp who is now living in Lima, Peru. Carazzo was forced to be the mistress of navy captain Antonio Pernías -one of Acosta's most notorious torturers- in order to stay alive.

This may be the first time that Inés Carazzo makes a public statement on the subject: "It was Acosta himself who repeated many times during those moments that they had a problem, and that they had to solve it. They were thinking about killing Dagmar. That was also Pernías' view."

It was Jorge Eduardo Acosta who made the final decision, as the chief of GT332 at the ESMA, to murder Dagmar Hagelin in cold blood; just as he decided murdering about five thousand other people. Thanks to the impunity laws in Argentina, this man -like the other torturers and killers- is a free man.

Acosta is enjoying a good life, and a high salary as an Argentine senior government official. He works as an advisor to the minister of the Interior, Carlos Corach. [Ed: This article was translated in March, 1996 - things may have changed since then]

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