On the night of December 14, 1977, three pilots flew a small plane across the Atlantic Ocean for more than an hour. Officially, there were no passengers on board, but eight women and four men lay on the floor of the plane. They were drugged, tortured, and barely conscious. During the flight, they were thrown naked from the plane. And they fell hundreds of meters into the icy water.
This concept is also called “death cruise” in Argentina. During Argentina’s military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983, these death cruises were omnipresent, yet very few details are known.
The flights were supposed to be carried out by five aircraft. Two of them were shot down during the Falkland War and three more were resold. Only one still exists today. And that plane, the Short SC.7 Skyvan, was found a few years ago in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Soon it will be brought back to Argentina and put on display.
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‘You will make history tangible’
Cecilia de Vincente’s mother, Azucena Villaflor, died on the flight in question. I told Watchman That the plane’s return would be concrete evidence against the emerging denial of the dictatorship in Argentina. “It will make that date tangible: They lived until December 14th, when they were thrown from this plane, and no one will be able to deny that now,” she said.
Mabel Carega, whose mother, Esther Ballestrino, died on the same flight on December 14, 1977, along with De Vincente petitioned the Argentine government to return the plane from the United States. Watchman. “The bodies of five out of the 12, including my mother and de Vincente’s mother, were discovered in 2005 in a common grave, where they had been buried unidentified in 1978 after washing up on Santa Teresita beach, about 340 kilometers south of Buenos Aires.”
In the end, even autopsy reports were recovered. In it, the doctor wrote that the bodies had apparently fallen into the water “from a great height.”
The plane in question was eventually found after searching for journalist Miriam Lewin, who had been held captive during the dictatorship, and Italian photographer Giancarlo Cerrudo. They obtained the records through the current owner of the aircraft. In addition to the flight on December 14th, there was another notable flight in the same month in those books.
Three pilots flew from Buenos Aires Airport to … Buenos Aires Airport. But they were on the road for three hours. These documents eventually led to the convictions of two of the three pilots, Mario Daniel Arrey and Alejando Domingo D’Agostino. The third, Enrique José de San Jorge, died while awaiting trial.
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