Poch’s lawyers were also surprised, they said shortly after the debate at the table at Jinek. Poch himself is in Spain, but they called him right away. The minister’s ‘gesture for humanitarian reasons’ appeals to him.
Suspected of involvement in ‘death flights’
What was that again? Former pilot Julio Poch was suspected in Argentina of involvement in the so-called death flights, in which opponents of the military dictatorship were thrown from planes in the 1980s.
The Netherlands was not allowed to extradite Poch to Argentina at the time, but had provided information to Spain so that they could detain him as soon as Poch was there for work. He was arrested in 2009 and eventually acquitted after eight years in custody.
‘Could have done sooner’
Knoops also appreciates the step, but thinks it could have been done sooner. The two lawyers praised the House of Representatives, which they believe had done a good job in this matter and insisted on redress.
Grapperhaus promised that the government will provide a double standard amount for every day of wrongful detention, as well as a contribution towards his lawyer’s fees.
Knoops was wrongfully imprisoned for eight years and demanded an apology from the Dutch state, as can be seen in this video (from more than two years ago):
Knoops had just announced that he would start proceedings on the merits against the State. It is not yet clear to the lawyers how much money the Dutch-Argentine ex-pilot can expect.
End of long agony
“It is a unilateral decision, we are not aware of it”. According to Geert-Jan Knoops, Poch will look seriously at the minister’s decision. “What happened tonight is special,” said Knoops. He hopes that this development will put an end to his client’s long agony.
5 million euros
Three years ago, Knoops had calculated that Poch’s damage is approximately 5 million euros. This involved loss of income and reputational damage, among other things. Carry Knoops points out that with his promise Grapperhaus does not acknowledge any guilt on the part of the government.
A committee investigating the case concluded that the Netherlands had done nothing unlawful. Both the lawyers and the House of Representatives strongly criticize the investigation and the findings.