Ex-Argentine officer denies genocide

25th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

25 January 2005, MADRID-An Argentine ex-officer facing 6,626 years' jail if found guilty by a Spanish court of genocide, murder and torture, denied involvement in death squads and flights that dumped political prisoners into the Atlantic.

25 January 2005

MADRID-An Argentine ex-officer facing 6,626 years' jail if found guilty by a Spanish court of genocide, murder and torture,  denied involvement in death squads and flights that dumped political prisoners into the Atlantic.

"Never! Never! I never took part in the action groups," he told the court when asked about dumping victims from planes into the ocean during the "dirty war" conducted against leftist dissidents by the Argentine military dictatorship in the 1970s.

Scilingo, 58, who sought refuge in Spain after the 1976-83 dictatorship ended, later came under investigation by Spanish authorities.

He went on trial here this month charged with genocide -  30 cases of murder, 93 of causing injury, 255 of terrorism and 286 of torture, to which he pleads not guilty.

He could faces possible jail terms totalling 6,626 years, the sentence sought by relatives of victims in a private prosecution.

Scilingo denied in evidence on Monday that he had been involved with death squads, thus retracting statements in 1997 to Spanish investigating magistrate Baltasar Garzon.

He said he had "hyped" his statements at the time with the aim of  "cooperating with the Spanish courts in investigating what happened during the dictatorship."

Scilingo is the first person linked to the former dictatorship to be tried abroad in person.

He is accused of participating in two "death flights," involving throwing drugged prisoners into the ocean from planes, as well as being involved in the abuses at the ESMA naval mechanics school in Buenos
Aires, a notorious centre of torture, rape and murder.

Scilingo said he had never received any special training in security work. "I'm an electrician," he protested in evidence.

Some 5,000 people disappeared at the ESMA during the dirty war against suspected leftist dissidents.

Argentina agreed in 2003 that Spain could try Scilingo as there were no equivalent charges pending against him in Buenos Aires.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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