Nine months have passed but the instruction is not near the end. The tensions between the parties seem irreconcilable and impact the remaining test measures. Where one sees a possible line to go, on the other side they understand that the request is inappropriate. The reverse is similar. They each interpret the test according to their own hypothesis. Since the cause for the forced disappearance of Facundo Astudillo Castro passed to the federal jurisdiction, the investigation to determine the details of his death has progressed with that context that slows down all its processes. In fact, the last two major movements in the case were the rejection of the judge’s challenge – requested by the mother’s lawyers – and a presentation by the prosecutors before the Federal Chamber of Bahía Blanca, to authorize new measures the magistrate herself denied them. In the background, all the rispideces arise by a difference of origin: for the family, the Police are responsible for what happened and in court they think that there is no evidence to support that.
Just two days before the judicial fair, on December 29, the Chamber denied the displacement of María Gabriela Marrón, who had been singled out for the complaints to favor the appointed agents. The judge had refused to raid again a surveillance post in the town of Teniente Origone, where an amulet that supposedly belonged to Facundo had been found and the kidnapping of some 50 cell phones of commissioners, deputy commissioners and officers linked to the police who had I contacted him on the day of his disappearance. This request for measures had been made by the prosecutors, who after the refusal went to the Chamber with a complaint. So far they have not received a reply.
“To know the level of concealment that there may be, it is essential to see the communications of those policemen,” they maintain from the complaints. “It is a total violation of rights. There are police officers in Bahia who have no ties. It’s an abuse ”, they respond from the court to explain why they refused to execute them. The discussion about the request for a new raid on Origone’s position runs down the same track. For the former it is essential to go there again with dogs to see if the animals can still trace the route and the latter question, even with expert bibliography, on how long dogs can recognize smells. They also relativize the finding of the amulet and say that two friends and the bride did not recognize it. In this step by step, what advances the most is mutual mistrust.
“I cannot understand how Judge Brown does not see the evidence we are presenting to her. We have proof that they lied, that they covered up. In November a policeman came to squeeze me at my work and told me: “Rest assured that the judge closes the case and then you will have to do with me.” More than the pressure, which we denounced, what scared me was that he was right ”, he tells elDiarioAR Facundo’s mother, Cristina Castro.
Out of this background fight there are a number of expertises for which the results have not yet been delivered. There are still reports of Facundo’s backpack, found in the Villarino estuaries, near where the young man’s remains had been found, with two cell phones and his driver’s license and a piece of clothing. security cameras, car patent registration. Another of the studies that these days would be reaching the court are those of the Argentine Institute of Oceanography (IADO), based in Bahia. This work should provide details of the maritime movements in the area of the find, to determine how far the water could have risen and how it could have influenced the dragging of the body.
But again, For the judge, now the key is in what happened in the area of the discovery, in the baths and the roads. Instead, the family looks for details about what happened since Facundo left the house until he allegedly got out of a woman’s car in General Cerri, 8 km from the discovery and 15 from Bahía Blanca. That is why some are waiting for the expertise of the objects found in Villarino and the study of tides, and the others press for them to let them examine cell phones and police stations.
One of the key moments in the investigation is on May 8, nine days after the disappearance. On that date, a Police Toyota Etios was 800 meters from the cangrejal where the remains were found. Also that same day, the police Siomara Flores, who claimed to have driven Facundo by car, deleted WhatsApp from his cell phone. The presence of the vehicle is confirmed by a geolocation report, but it details “jumps” in the signal during the journey there. For the complaint is conclusive, there was the truck. On the other hand, for the court’s assessment, those cuts and the distance to the place of the discovery lower the price. “In addition, we all delete cell phone applications, that action by itself cannot incriminate you,” they add.
In this crack prosecutors are now trying to appear as a third position. They are a disparate triad made up of the original prosecutor, Santiago Ulpiano Martínez, who, after the family wanted to challenge him twice, was joined by Horacio Azzolin and Andrés Heim. Azzolin is head of the Specialized Cybercrime Unit and deputizes the Attorney General’s Office before the Federal Chamber of Bahia. Heim is in charge of the Institutional Violence Attorney. Both were appointed on August 28 by the Attorney General, Eduardo Casal, to intervene jointly or alternately with Martínez. At that time, Facundo’s mother was targeting Martínez and the arrival of the other two prosecutors balanced positions and reassured the family.
“They have a complex task. They have to be close to the mother, in many things they agree with her and in another they say no. They try not to get caught between the two hypotheses on each side and continue to produce evidence, which sometimes works for one hypothesis and sometimes for another ”, explains a source close to prosecutors. According to his account, for them there are many inconsistencies in the two hypotheses and, for that reason, they avoid being conclusive. “All the time there are data that feed both the possibility of forced disappearance and that of an accident,” he comments and explains that, for example, recently, while they were seeing what happened to Facundo’s ID – the first time he was stopped He has it and on the second delivery of his license – they found that someone bought a chip from a cell phone with Facundo’s document.
“The judge left everything in the hands of Ulpiano Martínez, convinced that he was not going to do anything. But we did our research. We toured the area, every drain, every wasteland. The pandemic did not stop us. And despite him we got to the truth. Luckily now the other two prosecutors are committed to the cause ”, highlights the mother.
The sparks in the case are not all recent and only between the judge and the family. Despite the participation of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF), which, due to its image free of suspicion, the autopsy also had tensions. In those meetings between forensics, the expert on the part, Virginia Creimer, marked her disagreements with the interdisciplinary report. The work argued that the young man had died as a result of suffocation by submersion, a drowning without registration of the presence of third parties. But Creimer opposed the athenaeum format in which the debate took place and also signed in dissent the section regarding a phenomenon (the pink coloration of the teeth) that she maintained was a pre-mortem effect and that the rest of the experts did not. they considered it that final. That time all the experts understood that the conditions were in place for a unanimously supported report and the expert’s decision surprised them.
On April 30 of last year, Facundo left his home in Pedro Luro for Bahía Blanca to see his ex-girlfriend. The young man was arrested that day at 10 a.m. when he was walking along the road, despite the isolation imposed by the pandemic. On the way, at the height of Mayor Buratovich, the police officers Mario Gabriel Sosa and Jana Curuhinca detained and photographed him. Another agent, Siomara Flores, testified that she later picked up Facundo with her father’s car and took him from Buratovich to Origone, the next town. A fourth policeman, Alberto González, stopped Facundo at kilometer 750 of Route 3. He was the one who asked for his DNI, but the young man told him he did not have it and gave him the driver’s license. From then on, according to the story of an agricultural producer, Facundo went with her in his Honda CRV truck, to Cerri, where he left him near the tracks. This account was challenged by the defense. If it were true and the boy got there, that weakens the version that incriminates the previous policemen. This version does not close Cristina Castro either: “The story of this woman is completely a lie, she was put on the witness lists. The day before was gone and then magically appeared. They planted it ”, he maintains without a doubt.