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Spain court orders pilot extradited to Argentina for alleged role in 'Dirty War'

[JURIST] The Spanish High Court [official website, in Spanish] on Monday ordered the extradition of pilot Julio Alberto Poch so that he may be tried in Argentina for his alleged role in the nation's 1976-83 "Dirty War" [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Poch was a navy officer at Argentina's Naval Mechanics School [backgrounder, in Spanish], one of the most notorious detention centers of the military dictatorship, and is believed to have piloted flights, known as "death flights," which were used to dump the military junta's political opponents into the Plata river and the Atlantic Ocean. Poch holds dual Dutch and Argentine citizenship, which had protected him from earlier attempts at extradition [ABC report, Spanish], but he was arrested and imprisoned last September when he landed in Valencia while en route to the Netherlands. The Spanish court found that there are adequate measures in place to guarantee that Poch will receive a fair trial [BBC report] in Argentina. Poch continues to deny the charges against him but has accepted extradition.

Last month, an Argentine court sentenced [JURIST report] former judge Victor Brusa to 21 years in prison for crimes against humanity during the country's Dirty War. The Federal Court of Santa Fe found Brusa guilty of eight counts of crimes against humanity in his capacity as a judicial officer during the dictatorship. The court also sentenced five former police officers to between 19 and 23 years in prison for their roles in kidnapping and torture. Brusa was arrested in 2005 after Argentina's Supreme Court struck down amnesty laws [JURIST report] adopted in the 1980s to deter military insurrection against the democratic government, prompting the government to reopen hundreds of human rights cases. During the Dirty War, an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people were forcibly kidnapped or "disappeared" in a government-sponsored campaign against suspected dissidents.

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