The Chargé in Uruguay (Sparks) to the Secretary of State

No. 6835

Sir: With reference to the Embassy’s despatch no. 5270 of January 10, 1945, entitled “Sensational Arrest of Members of local Spy Ring” and despatch no. 5339 of January 23, 1945, entitled “Transmission of Legal Attaché’s Report concerning Arrest of Members of local Nazi Spy Ring”,17 I have the honor to report that, according to information received by the Legal Attaché, the Uruguayan Supreme Court on December 28 ordered the release under bond of the four remaining individuals of the group arrested in January 1945 as members of a local Nazi spy ring, which had operated under the direction of Juan Sigfrido Becker18 in Buenos Aires.

It may be recalled that on January 5 and 6, 1945, seventeen persons were detained for preliminary interrogation, all of whom were promptly released except for six who were to be held for trial. Fairly recently the release was unobtrusively ordered of Rodolfo Martínez Lanza, who had acted as a courier between Montevideo and Buenos Aires in his capacity of radioman for the C.A.U.S.A. airline, and later, on December 11, there was also released Antonio Domingo Frova Mazzoni, who had turned informer and whose declarations had brought about the confessions of the others. The remaining four individuals just released include: Juan Alberto Bove Trabal, Luis Alberto Sciutto Moncalvo (PL), Luis Dreher Haussmann and Teodoro Muhlbauer Landgraff. Dreher and Muhlbauer are both Germans.

As occurred in the case of Martínez Lanza and Frova no notice appeared in the local press regarding the release of the four persons referred to. Perhaps this can be explained by the fact that this decision was reached by the Supreme Court when it was holding its annual review of petitions for release at the end of the year, at which time it can, and does, grant pardons to those individuals who in its opinion merit such consideration. Further, it is to be noted that the release of these four individuals is technically-speaking only provisional and that theoretically they can be re-incarcerated to stand trial at some future date.

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According to several reliable sources a favorable decision in the present case was reached by the Supreme Court only due to the initiative of its President, Chief Justice Juan José Aguiar, who it may be recalled, summarily informed the Committee Investigating Anti-National Activities two weeks before that it would have to terminate its functions as of December 31 (see Embassy’s despatch no. 6819 of January 12, 1946, entitled “Suspension by Uruguayan Supreme Court of Functions of Committee Investigating Anti-National Activities; Doubt as to Interpretation of Laws pertaining to Committee; and Steps taken to prolong its Life”19). One source has suggested that pressure was probably exerted on the Supreme Court by interested persons first to secure the release of Bove Trabal, who as the Department is aware has important family connections, hoping that, once he was released, the Supreme Court would feel bound to release the other three as well so as not to appear to have made any exception.

Certain Uruguayan authorities sincerely interested in extirpating the vestiges of Nazi activities remaining here have been disappointed by the Court’s recent action since it is generally believed that it is hardly likely that further action will be taken against any of these six self-confessed Nazi collaborators. In this connection a report has just been received from a generally reliable source that Sciutto20 is in possession of considerable money and is engaged in spreading pro-Perón propaganda here.

Respectfully yours,

For the Chargé d’Affaires ad interim:
Reginald Bragonier

Second Secretary
  1. Neither printed.
  2. For an account of Becker’s activities, see Department of State, Consultation Among the American Republics With Respect to the Argentine Situation (Washington, 1946).
  3. Not printed.
  4. Luis Alberto Sciutto, said to have been a courier for the Juan Sigfrido Becker espionage ring.