24 September 2009
Argentine Dirty War suspect arrested
According to the BBC Transavia pilot Julio Alberto Poch, has been arrested in Spain over his alleged role in Argentina's 1976-1983 "Dirty War". He was held at Valencia airport as he was about to fly a passenger plane to Amsterdam, Spanish officials say.
Poch, who has dual Dutch and Argentine nationalities, is said to have been a military pilot at Argentina's Naval Mechanics School – an infamous torture and detention centres of the Argentine military regime. He is alleged to have been involved in the so-called "death flights", in which political prisoners of Argentina's military were drugged and dumped into the sea from the planes.
It is expected that the Argentine Government will ask for his extradition to face trial. Argentine judge Sergio Torres had previously called for the Netherlands to extradite Poch at the end of 2008, after he received testimony from witnesses implicating him in the "death flights".
Judge Torres says he has proof that Poch was involved in the abuses at the ESMA, naval mechanics school. Torres received testimony from a Transavia pilot who said Poch had described to him how the regime's political opponents were thrown into the sea.
"He told me that on board his planes, people were thrown into the sea while still alive with the goal of killing them, and he justified the practice by saying that the people were terrorists," the pilot told the criminal investigation. Another source's testimony also implicates Poch for having "flown regular flights during which groups of people were thrown from his plane into the sea."
Some 30,000 people disappeared during the military dictatorship in Argentina, according to human rights organisations.
If there is enough evidence to extradite Poch I hope he is sent back to Aragentina to face trial. If he is guilty then he deserves to rot in prison for the rest of his worthless life.