Testimony by Dr. Alberto Neumann before Minister Hernan Sanchez Marre




Before Judge Hernan Sanchez Marre

June 1, 1990




POZO ALMONTE, June first of the year nineteen ninety

Hereby appears before this Court, ALBERTO ENRIQUE NEUMANN LAGOS, Chilean, native of Pisagua, married, physician, reads and writes, RUN N. 3.752.215-5, domiciled in the city of Valparaiso, Independencia Street N. 1718, under oath testifies as follows:

In answer to your questions, while serving as city councilman in Valparaiso and doctor at Deformes Hospital, I was arrested at this institution on September 11, 1973, as a consequence of the military coup that occurred that day.

I remained prisoner in the Navy cadet school, the ship Esmeralda, as of the day of my arrest until approximately September 16, 1973, on which date I was transferred to a holding room of the Maipo, property of the South American Steamship Company.

On this cargo ship I was transferred together with hundreds of other detainees to Pisagua. I am not able to state precisely how many of us were on that ship because we were kept in separate holding rooms.

On September 18, 1973 we arrived at Pisagua and we were taken to the penitentiary at that place, namely the Pisagua Prison, and sent to different cells.

When we arrived at Pisagua Prison, prisoners from Iquique and other parts of northern Chile were already held there. At Pisagua, the Navy left us in custody of the Army, which was in charge of the prison. I must add that the common prisoners once held at the prison as well as the few residents of the locality of Pisagua had been evacuated, so that the entire area was a military zone.

In this prison facility, the prisoners were very crowded; the physical space did not have the capacity for so many prisoners.

I remained prisoner at this place until late October 1973, at which time I was transferred with a group of three prisoners back to Valparaiso. I should add that there were three physicians from Valparaiso in this group. During the last period of our stay in Pisagua, the doctors were placed in cells apart from the other prisoners. We were in charge of administering medical attention to the political prisoners, using the prison infirmary office for that purpose.

On September 29, 1973 at the lunch hour when the prisoners went out to the prison yard to eat, the detention center military chief Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Larrain, addressed us. He told us that more prisoners were on the way and that no one could escape arrest, in reference to leftists. For this reason, he said, the facilities needed to be adapted and certain carpentry and other work was required, and he asked for volunteers to perform these jobs. Many prisoners volunteered because it was a relief to be able to do any kind of work considering the inhumane conditions in which we were kept.

Then Lieutenant Colonel Larrain chose six prisoners: Marcelo Guzman, Nolberto Cañas, Michael Nash, Juan Calderon, Luis Lizardi and Juan Jimenez. The six prisoners he named were from that area, northern Chile, and had been arrested by the Army.

Later, that night Commander Larrain informed us that the six prisoners had tried to escape and consequently, they had been shot. He added that the prisoner Michael Nash was able to get away the farthest, which Larrain attributed to the fact, that Nash had military training. This prisoner had been completing his mandatory military service in Iquique at the time of his arrest. When I shared a cell with Nash, he told me that he had been arrested for refusing to participate in the military coup.

In early October, Navy officers arrived at Pisagua and proceeded to interrogate all prisoners who had come from Valparaiso. The military personnel had told us to expect the arrival of this delegation from Valparaiso who had special military training and were capable of killing any animal. This they told us throughout the entire period of psychological torture.

The Navy delegation finally arrived and they blindfolded us and took us in groups, out of the prison to a place a few blocks away. I am not able to be more precise about the location because, as I mentioned, we were all blindfolded. These men from the Navy meted out a very harsh treatment. They threatened us, beat us, kicked us, insulted us and did other similar things to us. They even subjected us to electric current during interrogation.

We doctors among the prisoners are able to testify to this fact not only because we personally experienced the treatment just like the rest of the prisoners, but also because we had to examine and tried to help people after these interrogation sessions.

On October 10, 1973, Commander Larrain told me to prepare myself because he had a special mission for me the next day and I would have to be ready very early in the morning. On October 11, I woke up early and was taken in Jeep with Commander Larrain. Other vehicles also departed. Up to that moment I had no idea where we were going or anything about the special mission Commander Larrain had talked about.

We arrived at the side of the old Pisagua cemetery, an area between the cemetery and the sea. Nearly the entire Army personnel at Pisagua, in addition to lower officers and privates, were all there, in formation as if it were a normal military ceremony. The lower-ranking officers were armed with automatic weapons. There was also a platoon of Army conscripts in formation like a firing squad. Some were standing, while others knelt in front of them. They were also armed with automatic rifles.

I observed that the military personnel were on the side of a ditch or an excavation that had just been dug. It was 15 meters long by 2 meters wide and I could see six corpses covered in sacks, placed side by side at the bottom of the ditch. One of the officers told me that these were the bodies of the people who had tried to escape on September 29, 1973, according to the account I described previously.

The Pisagua Prison chaplain, by the name of Murillo was also present, and I could see that he was very disturbed.

Commander Larrain informed me that some prisoners, who had been sentenced to death by a War Council, were going to be executed.

Later Commander Larrain made a speech to the military officers, which was addressed especially to the soldiers of the firing squad. During all this time, the prisoners had not yet arrived. The speech was intended to give the soldiers the strength to commit the crime. He told them they were cleaning the country of bad elements, making spurious reference to the prisoners who were going to be shot.

I must add that the lower ranking officers were standing perpendicular to the firing squad soldiers. The officers were also armed, thus representing a terrible pressure over the soldiers who were about to fire upon the prisoners.

What happened next occurred in complete silence. The prisoners began to arrive, walking up to the place. The first three were blindfolded and were placed in front of the firing squad, one next to another, about 2 meters apart. With his hand, an officer gave the signal to shoot and the platoon of 12 men fired upon the three prisoners who fell dead.

I have the impression that the men who were shot did not know what was about to take place. They did not seem to have been told what would happen. They were all very calm.

At that moment Commander Larrain told me that I had to certify the deaths of the executed prisoners. I did so, confirming that each was dead. Only one was still alive, and the officer proceeded to give him the so-called "coup de grace" with his gun.

The bodies of these three persons were covered with burlap sacks.

These events were repeated with two more prisoners, who were shot under the same conditions.

I must add that in the case of Humberto Lizardi, the blindfold became loose at the moment they were firing. I mention this fact in order to confirm my personal knowledge of these events. The names of the persons who were shot are the following: Juan Valencia, Humberto Lizardi, Mario Morris, Jose Cordova and Julio Cabezas.

At this time, I do not recall the name of the officer in charge of the firing squad. I do know he was the second ranking officer after Commander Larrain.

Once the execution had concluded, I was returned to the Prison, so I did not see when they covered the ditch with dirt. I must add, to be precise, that the ditch where the bodies were buried, is located along the western side of the cemetery, on the side nearest the sea. It is an unleveled area that slopes down to the sea.

The ditch was approximately 15 meters long and was located about 20 meters from the cemetery wall, facing the coast. It was about 2 meters wide from south to north, located about 50 to 60 meters from the end of the cemetery wall, on the southern side.

I should add that the person to whom the officer gave the coup de grace was Juan Valencia, who I knew in Pisagua. I knew perfectly well who he was. I must also add that I knew Lizardi as well in Pisagua, and was perfectly able to identify him. The same with Julio Cabezas, who I knew to be a lawyer.

Concerning Mario Morris, I should say that I knew him from Valparaiso. I am a friend of all his family. I have no doubt that he was in the first group of three prisoners shot.


Having read this testimony, I certify its veracity and sign it before the Court.

Alberto Neumann



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