Spain extradites "death flight" pilot to Argentina
The Spanish government on May 6 extradited pilot Julio Alberto Poch to Argentina to face trial for his alleged role in the nation's 1976-83 "Dirty War." Poch was a navy officer at Argentina's Naval Mechanics School, one of the most notorious detention centers of the military dictatorship, and is believed to have piloted flights known as "death flights," which were used to dump the military junta's political opponents into the Plata River and the Atlantic Ocean. Poch holds dual Dutch and Argentine citizenship, which had protected him from earlier attempts at extradition, but he was arrested and imprisoned last September when he landed in Valencia while en route to the Netherlands. A Spanish court agreed to his extradition in January, finding that there are adequate measures in place to guarantee that Poch will receive a fair trial in Argentina. Poch continues to deny the charges against him.
Earlier this week, former Argentine military junta leader Jorge Rafael Videla was charged with an additional 49 counts of murder, kidnapping, and torture for crimes allegedly committed during Argentina's Dirty War. The charges are the latest in the ongoing investigation against Videla, who led Argentina from from 1976 to 1981. Last month, a federal court in Argentina sentenced former president and military general Reynaldo Bignone to 25 years in prison for human rights abuses during his 1982 to 1983 presidency. During the Dirty War, an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people were forcibly kidnapped or "disappeared" in a government-sponsored campaign against suspected dissidents.
From Jurist, May 6. Used with permission.
See our last post on Argentina's Dirty War.