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Wed Nov 29, 2017, 12:58 AM

Argentina death flights: a son's fight for the right to testify against his father

Uki Gońi in Buenos Aires
Tuesday 28 November 2017 03.00 EST

Pablo Verna hasn’t seen his father since a heated discussion in a Buenos Aires hotel bar more than four years ago. But the bitter 2013 conversation which led to their estrangement was not about family matters.

Over three painful hours, retired army doctor Julio Alejandro Verna grudgingly confirmed his son’s worst suspicions: during Argentina’s 1976-83 dictatorship he had sedated political prisoners so they could be thrown – still alive – from military planes into the freezing waters of the South Atlantic.

“My life has been split into before and after that conversation,” said Verna, 44. The confession was doubly shocking – not only because it confirmed Verna’s worst fears, but also because the identity of the men who participated in the “death flights” has long remained a closely guarded secret.

A pact of silence among the hundreds of former officers serving sentences or currently on trial means that precious little testimony regarding such crimes has been heard from the perpetrators themselves.


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