Argentine accused of piloting death flights is extradited
BUENOS AIRES — A pilot who allegedly flew death flights for Argentina’s military dictatorship was extradited from Spain yesterday.
Julio Alberto Poch is accused of illegal detentions, tortures, disappearances, and deaths when he served as a military pilot during the 1976-1983 junta, which killed as many as 30,000 people.
Poch arrived in Buenos Aires yesterday and faces a court hearing today. He has denied the charges.
Poch, 57, was turned in by co-workers at the Dutch airline where he worked after the dictatorship. They said he had bragged about the death flights and was unrepentant about executing people he considered to be terrorists.
About 1,000 people are believed to have been drugged, tied up, and thrown alive into the sea from military planes after being kidnapped and tortured inside Argentina’s Navy Mechanics School. Poch is accused of piloting the planes used to dispose of journalist Rodolfo Walsh and the French nuns Alice Domon and Leonie Duquet, among others.
Argentina had asked the Netherlands for his extradition, but the request was complicated by the Dutch citizenship Poch had obtained. Spain acted on Argentina’s request, arresting him in front of his passengers and family during a stop in Valencia on what was supposed to be his final flight back to the Netherlands before retiring from Transavia, a subsidiary of
Also awaiting a hearing yesterday was José Alfredo Martinez de Hoz, the powerful economy minister who ran Argentina’s finances during most of the dictatorship. Now 84, he was arrested Tuesday and his bank accounts were frozen. He is being detained in a private clinic because of poor health.
Martinez de Hoz is charged along with former dictator Rafael Videla with the kidnapping and extortion of two executives of a cotton export business in 1976. According to court records, Federico and Miguel Ernesto Gutheim were held for five months, and set free only after giving up control of their company to a firm approved by economy ministry. They fled into exile.