by Pascale Bonnefoy M. (Lea aquí el artículo original en español)
- READ MORE: Inside the Servicio Médico Legal I: Cadavers at dawn
- READ MORE: Inside the Servicio Médico Legal II: Cursory autopsies
- READ MORE: Inside the Servicio Médico Legal III: From the morgue to the cemetery
he 1973 death registry (Transfer Book) at the Instituto Médico Legal (IML) in Santiago reveals that a 1996 report by the National Corporation for Reparation and Reconciliation (CNRR) erroneously classified a victim of human rights violations by confusing his information with that of another man killed before the military coup.
According to the Transfer Book, Luis Curivil Pranamil was shot dead in the street at 8:00 a.m. on September 13, as stated in his death certificate. He entered the morgue three hours later, referred by the Second Military Prosecutor’s Office, and weeks later, he was “cremated as a pauper” in the General Cemetery, as indicated in the cemetery’s records.
Dead before the coup
owever, the family of Luis Curivil Pranamil never denounced the case to the various official commissions that have qualified the victims of human rights violations. The one that did was the family of another person whose name differs from the first by only one letter of the second surname: Luis Curivil Tranamil. The latter died more than a week before the military coup, victim of a common crime.
The CNRR described Luis Curivil Tranamil, who was stabbed by unknown persons at the corner of Alameda and Almirante Barroso on September 3, 1973, as a victim of political repression, despite the fact that neither the date nor the cause of his death, nor the circumstances of his death described by the family member who filed the case, correspond to a political execution.
Luis Curivil Tranamil was a young worker from Nueva Imperial in the region of La Araucanía, who, according to the record of the IML and his death certificate , died of a “stab wound” to the heart on September 3, 1973.
His remains were recognized in the morgue by his relatives. A sister-in-law removed the body on September 7 and he was buried in the Metropolitan Cemetery of Santiago, according to the IML registry. The military coup had not yet taken place.
However, in 1994, a brother of the victim who had been with him the night before his death, Julio Curivil Tranamil, presented the case to the CNRR and gave a statement to detective Abel Lizama. With that single statement, to which ArchivosChile had access, Luis Curivil Tranamil was classified as a victim of political repression.
In that statement, Julio Curivil Tranamil said he could not specify the date, but one night in 1973 he and his brother Luis were intercepted by a group of people while walking towards downtown Santiago in a state of drunkenness. They had been drinking in a restaurant after dropping their father off at Estación Central.
The attackers–he could not specify whether they were civilians or uniformed—beat him unconscious in an excavation in the Metro. Julio Curivil said that he was rescued from the place the following morning, “when the Metro workers arrived”. There he realized that his brother Luis was not with him. He was later found in the morgue, where he had been admitted as a John Doe (NN).
In the IML, the family was told that Luis Curivil had died “from a few stab wounds,” Julio Curivil Tranamil told the detective.
However, the story was implausible. If it had been September 13–the date on which Luis Curivil Pranamil was shot–it was impossible for the Metro workers to have arrived at work, since there was a curfew until noon and no one was allowed to go to work, with few exceptions. For the same reason, it would have been highly improbable that the two brothers would have been drinking in a restaurant until late the night before, September 12, and even less likely that they would have made the walk from the Central Station to almost reach the presidential palace in the middle of the curfew, with the capital under military occupation.
Two different men
The other victim, Luis Curivil Pranamil, came into the IML with his identification on September 13. He died of two bullets in the chest, one in the stomach and two in the extremities. His case was under the jurisdiction of the Second Military Prosecutor’s Office.
Luis Curivil Pranamil was neither recognized nor removed by his relatives from the morgue, according to his autopsy protocol. There is no fingerprint record to confirm his identity, at least in the files available today at the Civil Registry.
The comparison of data from the Transfer Book with the General Cemetery archives reveals contradictory versions about his departure from the morgue and his burial. According to the Transfer Book, his remains were transferred to the General Cemetery on October 3, 1973. However, the burial pass issued by the SML and filed at the General Cemetery indicates that he arrived at the cemetery fifteen days later: “Decedent sent without a relative directly by the IML, protocol 2692, 18 October 1973”.
Luis Curivil Pranamil was taken directly to the crematorium, according to the General Cemetery documentation that ArchivosChile was able to review. His final destination appears in his file: “Incinerated as indigent. Ashes kept in the crematorium”. His family never denounced his death to the commissions for the qualification of victims of human rights violations.
The autopsy reports of the two Luis Curivils indicate that they were indeed two different men, clearly distinguishable by their height and weight. According to the autopsy reports–consulted through third parties–Luis Curivil Tranamil was 1.67 meters tall and weighed 68 kilos, while Luis Curivil Pranamil was 1.75 meters tall and weighed 80 kilos.
The Corporation confused the information provided by Luis Curivil Tranamil’s brother with the real victim of political repression, Luis Curivil Pranamil. Apparently, the CNRR did not take into account these inconsistencies, nor did it realize that the death certificate it attached to his case corresponded to Luis Curivil Pranamil, while the birth certificate it had in front of it belonged to Luis Curivil Tranamil. Nor, apparently, did they review the records of the SML for the month of September 1973, where it is noted that Luis Curivil Tranamil was stabbed to death on September 3, and at the time of the military coup, he was already buried.
In his police statement Julio Curivil Tranamil states that his brother’s death was never investigated. It is unclear for what purpose he filed the case with the Corporation in 1994. According to the Human Rights Program of the Ministry of the Interior, neither of the two Curivil families is receiving the benefits granted to the families of victims of the repression.
 The Corporation was created in 1992 and succeeded the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Rettig Commission). The Corporation was charged with evaluating cases that the Rettig Commission had not been able to form a conviction on or whose cases it was unable to examine due to lack of background information. The “Report on the Classification of Victims of Human Rights Violations and Political Violence” was published in 1996.
 The death certificate records his name as Luis Curivil Tranavil, instead of Tranamil: an error that probably occurred at the time of registering his death, a Civil Registry official explained to ArchivosChile. However, the RUN number associated with him corresponds to Luis Curivil Tranamil.
- Investigation Overview: The Bureaucracy of Death – Executions in Chile 1973
- Inside the Instituto Médico Legal (I): Bodies at dawn
- Inside the Instituto Médico Legal (II): “Cursory autopsies”
- Inside the Instituto Médico Legal (III): From the morgue to the cemetery
- Political Executions: 150 new cases?
- Crossed identities and bodies without names at the Registro Civil
- The black hole of the military prosecutors’ offices
- Military Courts: Execute first, judge second
- Wartime Tribunals: Absolute authority
- The silence of the cemetery
- The strange case of the two Luis Curivils
- Victor Jara and Littré Quiroga
- Bodies floating in the Mapocho River
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