d) Testimony of Felipa Benicia Valdez, mother of Diego Walter Valdez, deceased former inmate at the Center The witness’ son, Diego Walter Valdez, was a good and obedient boy. At age 11, a patrolman shot him in the legs and then took him away to treat him. However, he was in the police station for 15 days, and they demanded 150 thousand guaraní for his release. She sold her wardrobe to get the money. When her son was 13, the police took him to the police station and demanded money for his release. However, she did not have the amount they were demanding of her. So they sent her son to the Center, although he was not guilty of anything and was never convicted of any crime; after three months, they released him. When the witness’ son was 16, he was accused of stealing a cellular phone. To get him released she had to sell her stove and refrigerator. But they sent her son to the Center all the same. He had been there for six months when the fire happened. Her son was never convicted, but he did have an attorney.
She went to the Center on visiting days: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. But on some days her son was in the punishment cell “to reduce the amount of time he would have to spend at the Center.” There he was beaten, denied food, and was given only water.” One day “he vomited” blood and they gave orders to have him brought out immediately; he told her that they hit him repeatedly in the waist area. That time they took Diego Walter to a doctor and gave him medicine. Her son was in a wheelchair. Her son was fine before being placed in the Center; once there, he became thin and pale. The food at the Center was “pig’s food.” It caused the witness great pain to see her son suffering when he had done nothing wrong. He did not want to tell her much for fear that she would have a breakdown, as she had a heart condition.
She learned of the fire four days after the fact. He daughter was the one to tell her. She no longer had a television as she had sold it to secure her son’s release the second time the police took him into custody. When her daughter told her that all the inmates were in the hospital, she went there but when she tried to get in they shoved her and told her that she could not come in because she would infect her son. They let her enter one day later. The witness asked the doctor if she could bring medications to her son, because the hospital didn’t have them. But he told her no. Her son told her that he was awake on the day of the fire and that someone threw something from outside “to set fire to the place.” A few days after the fire, after going into intensive care, her son died. The witness was grief-stricken. She felt like shouting to everyone “Why do these things happen? We’re all human beings.” She could not stand the pain. She thought that as long as her son was in the Center, the State would make certain that nothing happened to him.
Later, someone who did not give his name telephoned the witness and told her that she would be paid and to stay calm; but she replied that her “son was priceless.”
Diego Walter’s death left her ill. She suffers so much and does not understand how human beings can be so heartless as to do these things. The witness has heart problems and is currently undergoing very difficult cardiac treatment. Her son Cristian, 14, panicked and is no longer completely normal mentally. Her son’s death also took its toll on her other children, William Santiago and Gloria Raquel.
She asked the Court for justice and to at least ensure that the boys who were burned are treated.