Christmas letter from Julio Poch (From the prison of Marcos Paz)

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

While in the northern hemisphere winter’s arriving, here in Buenos Aires we’re commencing another hot summer. Once again the end of the year is upon us and it finds me still unjustly confined in a maximum security prison surrounded by guards and barbwire.
The ESMA mega-trial that began in November of 2012 passed its fourth anniversary. The teams of defense lawyers started their defense statements last May. The court sessions take place twice a week, for just three hours per session. So progress is very slow. By the end of this year our lawyers will have completed the defense of 30 defendants. Then in February, after the Court’s summer recess, the lawyers of the remaining 25 defendants will have their turn, including mine. We still think it will be around April or May. Then the Tribunal´s verdict should take place in July. I have confidence in my lawyer, Mr. Gerardo Ibáñez, who is very experienced and knows my case down to the smallest details. I joked with him that it should be easy to defend an innocent man. But he told me that’s not the case in Argentina!

This will be my 8th Christmas in prison without ever having committed a crime. I was fortunate to enjoy the recent visits of my son Andrés, and my daughters Mariana and Alejandra who all came separately from the Netherlands. My sister Patricia continues to be my guardian angel. Once again I want to thank all our friends and colleagues for their continuing support. I have received numerous visits of pilots and cabin crew members. Some have come all the way to Argentina just to visit me and others take advantage of their stops in Buenos Aires but sacrificing their valuable free time.

The center right government of Mauricio Macri has not made any drastic changes regarding these trials of vengeance. It expects an independent justice but does little to change the status quo. The Human Rights organizations are complaining that some people were laid off and their budgets reduced. However, without a renewal of judges and prosecutors it will be difficult to obtain any real improvement in the justice system. We all hope that the judges of our Tribunal Nr. 5 will now have less political pressure and will be allowed to decide fairly based on the evidence.

I will keep you informed of the trial’s advancement -or any delay. Luckily my entire family is in good health and so am I. My best wishes for 2017, enjoy your freedom and never take it for granted!

Julio