Former pilot Julio Poch to sue Dutch state over deportation

The former Transavia pilot found not guilty last year of involvement in death flights on behalf of the Argentine junta is to sue the Dutch state for compensation.

Dutch Argentine pilot Julio Poch had always denied involvement in death flights, in which opponents of the junta (1976-1983) were drugged and thrown from planes. At the end of last year he was found not guilty by a court in Argentina due to a lack of evidence.

Poch was arrested in Spain in September 2009 while about to make his final flight for Transavia, where he had worked since 2003.  There is no extradition treaty between the Netherlands and Argentina and the Dutch authorities had tipped off both Spain and Argentina as to his whereabouts prior to his arrest.

Poch was held in custody for eight years prior to the trial taking place.

His lawyer has now written to Dutch justice minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus to say that he is holding the Dutch state liable for damages, the minister has confirmed to parliament.

Poch, his lawyers Carry and Geert-Jan Knoops and members of his family appeared on the Jinek television chat show on Tuesday night to talk about the case. Poch said he had only heard about the death flights in 1995.

‘It is important to clarify exactly what happened,’ Geert-Jan Knoops said. ‘We have information that influence was exerted at a high level. We want to hear ministers in a court case. This should never happen again.’

Poch is alleged to have told several Transavia pilots about the death flights, saying ‘we threw them from planes’. Those claims were the basis for his arrest and deportation.

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation