Source AP ©

Torture center to be turned into memorial museum in Argentina

The buildings where thousands of people were tortured under a dictatorship will be turned into a memorial museum.

A Defense Ministry spokesman, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to give information by name, confirmed the last remaining personnel had left the Navy Mechanics' School by a Sunday deadline.

The spokesman said the ministry planned a simple ceremony to formally hand over the grounds on Wednesday.

The departure of the military opens the way for creation of a Museum of Memory that President Nestor said would be dedicated to victims of the 1976-83 military dictatorship.

The well-manicured campus with more than 30 buildings is an enduring symbol of repression in Argentina, where officials say at least 13,000 people died or disappeared during the military junta's crackdown on dissent. Human rights groups say the toll was closer to 30,000.

An estimated 5,000 detainees passed through the building under the dictatorship. Many were never seen again.

It was replaced as a school by a new military academy at the Puerto Belgrano navy base in southern Argentina.

Human rights groups say they are still working out the details of what the museum will hold and need to repair damage from a 2006 hailstorm.