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Revista Médica del Uruguay

Print version ISSN 0303-3295On-line version ISSN 1688-0390


RODRIGUEZ ALMADA, Hugo; BAZAN HERNANDEZ, Natalia; IGLESIAS SALAVERRIA, Victoria  and  PEREZ REAL, Evangelina. Medical-forensic study of deaths in police custody during the period of State terrorism in Uruguay. Rev. Méd. Urug. [online]. 2022, vol.38, n.2, e206.  Epub June 01, 2022. ISSN 0303-3295.

All deaths in police custody are potentially illicit on account of the government’s acts of commission or acts of omission. The study presents a systematized report from the forensic perspective, of deaths in police custody of political prisoners in Uruguay during the period of state terrorism.


a) to learn about the scale of the phenomenon; b) to characterize victims; c) to determine the causes, ways and circumstances of deaths in the cases that had not been studied yet; d) to systematize the causes, modes and circumstances of death in all the studied population.


the study used the official list of victims for the period of State terrorism and analyzed both public information and information that was available for academic research. The deaths that had not been previously studied were reviewed by a Medical Board that rendered a decision through a historic autopsy.


in Uruguay, 108 people died for political reasons in police custody from June 27, 1973 to February 28, 1985; 36 (33%) victims died in a clandestine or irregular detention center, 34 (31%) in a regular prison; 19 (18%) are still missing and 19 (18%) died during detention or repression operations. 81% of victims were male and average age was 37 years old. 67% were workers or employees and 23% were students. 69% accounted for violent deaths and torture was the main cause. Negligence and failures in care were seen in 9 out of the 32 natural deaths, what evidently impacts the lethal outcome.


the results obtained fully confirm the general principle that these are potentially illicit.

Keywords : Historical autopsy; Death in custody; Humanitarian forensic action; Human rights.

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