POCH: Final Words ESMA Trial (October 11, 2017)

Judge Obligado: Well, it is the turn now of Mr. Poch. Similarly, with equal normative reference, I give you the floor.

Julio Poch: Thank you, Your Honor. I am going to be very brief.
For an innocent person, there is nothing worse than to be falsely incriminated.

I want to remind the Tribunal how this injustice began. On September 22nd, 2009, I was the victim of an ignominious act, when I was arrested in Valencia, Spain, while performing my professional duties as Captain of Boeing-737. It was a shameful arrest, intended to be exploited by the media. That same day, in a coordinated action, they also carried out a search of my home. I ask: Where is the presumption of innocence?

Since then more than eight years have gone by and I continue to be deprived of my freedom. Not only have they ruined my aviation career and my personal life, but they have also inflicted terrible harm on all my family: on my wife, on my children and even on my grandchildren. They are all far away, in the Netherlands, where we reside since 1988.
Now we get to this final instance: that of the sentence of a trial in which I should have never been included.
I trust that you, the judges of the Tribunal, can put things in their place and acquit me of all guilt and charges, leaving no doubt that I have no connection whatsoever to the crimes of which I have been so wrongfully accused.

Your Honors, I started in the Naval Aviation in 1974 and trained to defend my country as a combat aircraft pilot until my voluntary retirement in 1980. All the flights that I carried out were licit and were registered in my two flight logbooks.

I ask that you are not confused or misled by the prosecution accusation which lacked evidence and concrete data. It was only full of generalities, presumptions and false conclusions.
In this case in which I was “framed”, it was not said with which aircraft I could have been able to carry out a death flight, because at the time of the events I was pilot of the two-seat Aermacchi and single seat A-4 Skyhawk aircraft. Nor was it specified from where I would have carried out those flights, from where they took off, where they landed, what did Poch do. Because I was 700 km away from Buenos Aires, at the Comandante Espora Naval Air Base. And in its accusation, the prosecution did not even say – because they do not know – on what date the flights were carried out.

On the other hand, the Dutch witnesses that you heard via videoconference from the Netherlands, incurred in many contradictions, which we have pointed out one by one, to finally admit that they only based their accusation on their personal perception and their subjective interpretation of a conversation, a conversation at a dinner.
Also, my defense pointed out the malice of the Dutch pilot and witness Edwin Reijnoudt Brouwer who, while admitting that I never told him I had participated in the death flights, surprisingly named other colleagues of Transavia, stating that they had indeed heard it from me. I do not know if you recall that day. More hearsay, but completely false.
What happened then is that the day after Brouwer testified as a witness on October 22nd, 2014, on October 23rd, his statements exploded in the Dutch media. When they heard this, those colleagues named by Brouwer immediately came forward on their own initiative to refute him, assuring that Brouwer’s statements were false. Those valuable testimonies were incorporated to the case file.

The witness Edwin Reijnoudt Brouwer lied under oath with the deliberate intention of harming me. He did it with treachery on the last day of the witness statements by videoconference from The Hague. In my opinion that constitutes perjury.
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I dedicated more than 36 years of my life to flying. Flying is something beautiful. I don’t associate flying with crimes or with death.
Never in my life have I committed a crime. But here, with astonishing ease, I have been deprived of my freedom for more than 8 years. My name and honor have also been stained. I was the victim of a terrible persecution, a true witch hunt.

Having reached this instance, I would like to recall the words of the prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trial, Robert Jackson, who said:
‘You must put no man on trial under forms of judicial proceeding, if you are not willing to see him freed if not proven guilty. [] The world yields no respect to courts that are merely organized to convict.’ 

In my defense statement, Dr. Gerardo Ibáñez pointed out the lies and conjectures of the prosecution one by one, proving my innocence without leaving any doubt.
Your Honors, you examined the overwhelming exculpatory testimonies of my former squadron commanders, captains Novais, Colombo and Lavezzo.
You were able to verify in my Service and Concept Files that my postings in the Navy during the entire military government were only in fighter and attack squadrons.
You reviewed and analyzed my flight logbooks that confirm without doubt that at the time of the events I was exclusively a combat aircraft pilot.
Those flight logbooks were obtained in the search of my house where they had been kept for more than 30 years as souvenirs of the Navy. Now they are irrefutable documentary proof of my innocence. Their authenticity was demonstrated, among other checks, by comparing them with the calculation of Time of Double Services of my services file.
Due to all this, Your Honors, you now have the opportunity – and the duty – to show the country, and the entire international community – especially the Netherlands – that the Argentinean Tribunals uphold the law…

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In closing, it is very important for me to highlight the invaluable and disinterested support offered by my colleagues and friends of the Dutch airline Transavia. Because for a couple of bad apples, there were a lot of people who supported me at all times. I want to mention brave persons such as the former director of Transavia Peter Legro, and captains Henk Potze and Hendrik-Jan van Overvest, who did not rest in their search for truth and justice. And I also wish to thank the creators of the “Justice for Julio Poch” Foundation, captains Dirk Lokhorst, Arjan Dros and Mrs. Leonore Brons, a website that allowed us to express ourselves and denounce this terrible injustice before the world through the Internet and social media.
I want to thank my family, especially my wife Grethe, and my three children: Andrés, Mariana and Alejandra, and my dear sister Patricia, for their love and support that allowed me to endure the long years of this unjust captivity. And I also want to thank my friend and defense lawyer, Dr. Gerardo Ibáñez, and his daughter Carmen, for their devoted dedication to my defense.
I also wish to thank my friends and colleagues of the 101 class of the Navy for their invaluable support during all these years.
Finally, I am grateful to the Dutch Lawyer Dr. Geert-Jan Knoops who has fought tirelessly for my rights as a citizen of the Netherlands, and also to the authorities of the Dutch Consulate for their constant attention and concern for my case.

Thank you very much.
Julio Alberto Poch