'Death pilot' asks to be tried by Dutch courts

11th December 2009, Comments 0 comments

The pilot who is accused of playing a part in throwing political opponents out of planes during the Argentine military dictatorship has asked to be tried in the Netherlands as he holds both Dutch and Argentine nationality.

The Hague –An ex-Argentine navy lieutenant accused of piloting "death flights" during the South American country's former dictatorship asked a Dutch court on Thursday to be tried in the Netherlands.

Julio Alberto Poch, 57, who holds both Dutch and Argentine nationality, is accused of captaining flights that saw prisoners thrown alive out of planes during the Argentine military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983. He is currently being held in custody in Spain.

The court will make give its decision to Poch's request on 18 December, a tribunal spokesman in The Hague told AFP.

The Dutch prosecutor investigating Poch's case has been quoted by Dutch media as saying he should be tried in the Netherlands.

Cecile Bitter, the lawyer representing the Dutch state, insists Poch must stand trial in Argentina.

"The crimes which the defendant has been accused of were committed in Argentina against Argentine victims," Bitter said.

"It is important the surviving relatives of the missing people can follow the trial," she added.

Spanish authorities arrested Poch, a pilot for Dutch airline Transavia, at Valencia's airport in September at Argentina's request as he was preparing to take off for the Netherlands.

Madrid then approved his extradition to Argentina on 31 October.

Some 30,000 people went missing during the country's military dictatorship, according to rights groups.

The "death flights" were a way for the dictatorship of the time to dispose of political opponents, who were drugged, flown out over the ocean in military planes, and then thrown into the sea.

AFP / Expatica

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