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Defector says U.S. manuals used to teach torture in Uruguay

By BRIAN NICHOLSON

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- A former Uruguayan navy intelligence officer charged Sunday that U.S. manuals were used to train Uruguay's military staff in torture, including electric shock and hot towel interrogations.

Victor Paulo Laborde Baffico also said that most officers who trained him had attended courses at the School of the Americas run by U.S. military in Panama.

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But Baffico, who served in the Uruguayan Navy from May 1979 until his desertion in February of this year, said in a 51-page sworn statement that he saw no other evidence of United States involvement in Uruguayan intelligence work beyond the manuals that were translated into Spansih.

Baffico, who timed the release of his statement with his departure for political asylum in Denmark, said: 'Our manuals all came from the United States. They were very modern. They covered physical and psychological torture.'

'They were printed in Uruguay but they are of North American origin and all the techniques and their development is American. This is written in the book itself, and there are the names of the translators. They are all North American.'

Baffico said he served in the navy as a member of an intelligence unit, the Brigada de Infantes Raul Cardozo, in the old sector of Montevideo.

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Three days after deserting, Baffico fled to Brazil and sought asylum in the Rio de Janeiro offices of the United Nations Acting High Commission for Refugees, which arranged his Sunday passage to Denmark.

Baffico said the instruction books listed three main methods of physical torture. The first was the 'submarine,' in which the prisoner had his arms tied behind his back and the rope led over a ceiling pulley. By pulling on the rope the questioner could force the captive to bend forward thrusting his head into a tank of water.

A second method was electrical shock, and the manuals listed 35 critical nerve points around the body where electrodes could be applied, Baffico said.

The third method involved placing a towel soaked in very hot water over the prisoner's head and then applying more hot water at regular intervals for a long period of time.

Baffico said he himself had never participated in torture but had seen 'innumerable' torture victims. 'They came to the prison at the rate of about one per day,' he said.

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