Argentine police held in 1977 death of French nun

10th May 2011, Comments 1 comment

Three former Argentine police officers were arrested Tuesday on charges of killing a French-born nun during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship, a court official told AFP.

The nun, Leonie Duquet, and four other women were allegedly thrown alive from an airplane in late 1977 as it flew high above the South Atlantic.

The officers were members of Argentina's police Coast Guard and were allegedly the crew aboard the flight, the court official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

One of the suspects currently flies passenger jets on international routes for Aerolineas Argentinas, the national airline.

The other women allegedly hurled from the plane were members of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a rights group made of female relatives of people killed or missing during the dictatorship years.

The bodies of the Duquet and the four Argentine women were discovered in 2005 at a seaside cemetery buried under headstones that read "NN," or no name. Locals buried the remains after the tide washed their bodies ashore.

Hundreds of dictatorship-era victims are known to have been thrown alive into the ocean on similar so-called "flights of death."

Regime police kidnapped Duquet and another French nun, Alice Domon, in December 1977. Ten members of the Mothers group, including founder Azucena Villaflor, were kidnapped in the same operation.

On May 6, a government lawyer called for a life sentence for Alfredo Astiz, 59, nicknamed the "Blond Angel of Death" for crimes including the murder of Duquet and Domon.

Astiz, a former navy officer, has already been tried and sentenced to life in absentia by a French court for the Domon and Duquet murders.

Official figures say 9,000 people were kidnapped, tortured and killed in what became known as Argentina's "Dirty War," but many believe the real number to be closer to 30,000.

© 2011 AFP

1 Comment To This Article

  • Arockia Mary posted:

    on 4th June 2011, 10:32:30 - Reply

    The French Nuns Sr.Leonie Duquet and Alice Domon, in December 1977 were kidnapped by the police. After many years their servie for the poor were realized. The sisters belong to the French Institute of the Foreign Missions Sisters.