Spain oks extradition of Argentine 'death flights' pilot

1st November 2009, Comments 0 comments

Spain's government has approved the extradition to Argentina of a pilot suspected of having flown "death flights" under the Latin American country's ex-dictatorship, a government statement said Saturday.

Madrid - Spain's government has approved the extradition to Argentina of a pilot suspected of having flown "death flights" under the Latin American country's ex-dictatorship, a government statement said Saturday.

Julio Alberto Poch, 57, allegedly participated in the practice that saw prisoners thrown alive out of planes during the Argentine military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983.

Spain's cabinet on Friday approved "moving forward with the extradition procedure and handing over (Poch) to the Argentine authorities," the statement said.

The ex-Argentine navy lieutenant, who holds both Dutch and Argentine nationality, is wanted over four cases involving crimes under the dictatorship that led to more than 1,000 victims, Spain's interior ministry said.

Authorities allege he was a pilot for the Naval Mechanics School (ESMA), one of the biggest torture and detention centres of the Argentine military regime.

Poch's lawyer has said his name was not on a list of officers who belonged to ESMA.

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 to dispose of political opponents, who were drugged, flown out over the ocean in military planes, and then thrown into the sea.

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.

AFP/Expatica

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