During the “dirty war” which caused havoc during the period 1976-1983 under the military dictatorship of Jorge Rafael Videla, between 13’000 and 30’000 people went missing in Argentina.
One of the methods used to get rid of opponents to the regime without trace was to organise “flights of death” during which the people who had been abducted were thrown out of the aircraft, naked and unconscious, into the ocean thousands of metres below.
Scilingo was an Army officer in 1976 and 1977 at the dreaded Esma (Argentine Army’s High School for Mechanics). In this position, he is said to have taken part in two flights of death, during which around thirty people were killed.
On the occasion of an interview with the journalist Verbitsky, as published in the book “El Vuelo” (The Flight), Scilingo, in 1995 admitted that: “They were unconscious. We undressed them and as soon as the aircraft commander issued the order, we opened the hatches and threw them, naked, one after the other, out into the open air.”
In 1997, Scilingo voluntarily travelled to Spain in order to give testimony concerning these events. Nevertheless, the examining magistrate, judge Garzon afterwards had him put under arrest. An arrest warrant was also issued against 97 other Argentinean citizens.
Since then, Scilingo has gone back on his previous statements.