19 Jan 2010

Court orders extradition of 'death flight' pilot

9:16 pm on 19 January 2010

The Spanish High Court has ordered the extradition to Argentina of a pilot accused of being involved in throwing political prisoners out of aircraft into the sea, during Argentina's military dictatorship 30 years ago.

A final decision on the extradition of Julio Alberto Poch rests with the Spanish government, which is expected to rule on the case within weeks.

The BBC reports he is wanted in Argentina for flying planes used to dump opponents of the military regime into the sea - known as "death flights". He denies the accusations.

Some 30,000 people disappeared or died during the junta's 1976-1983 rule.

Mr Poch, 57, was detained during a stopover at Valencia's Manises airport on 22 September, while flying an aircraft for Dutch Transavia airlines, a subsidiary of Air France-KLM. He has dual Dutch and Argentine nationalities.

The court said in its ruling there were sufficient guarantees to ensure that Mr Poch would have a fair trial in Argentina.