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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The so-called death flights (Spanish: vuelos de la muerte) were a form of forced disappearance routinely practiced during the Argentine "Dirty War," theorized by Admiral Luis Maria Mendia. Victims of death flights were first drugged into a stupor, hustled aboard planes or helicopters, stripped naked and pushed into the Río de la Plata or the Atlantic Ocean to drown. Extrajudicial killings have been conducted in manners substantively similar to those of the Argentine death flights, during the 1957 Battle of Algiers, the Vietnam War, and other conflicts.


Death flights during the Argentine War

According to the testimony of Adolfo Scilingo, convicted by a Spanish court of crimes against humanity under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction in 2005, there were 180-200 death flights in the years 1977 and 1978; Scilingo confessed to participating in two such flights, with 13 and 17 people respectively.[1]

As an added twist, victims were sometimes made to dance for joy in celebration of the freedom that they were told awaited them. In an earlier interview, in 1996, Scilingo said, "They were played lively music and made to dance for joy, because they were going to be transferred to the south. [...] After that, they were told they had to be vaccinated due to the transfer, and they were injected with Pentothal. And shortly after, they became really drowsy, and from there we loaded them onto trucks and headed off for the airfield."[2]

Scilingo says that the Argentine Navy is "still hiding what happened during the dirty war".[3]

Use in other conflicts



Death Flights were used during the Algerian War by the French Paratroopers in 10th Parachute Division under Jacques Massu during the Battle of Algiers. As the corpses sometimes came back to the surface, they began to attach concrete blocks to their feet. These victims were known as "Bigeard's shrimps" ("crevettes Bigeard"), after one of the para commanders, Marcel Bigeard.[4] [5][6]

Malagasy Uprising

During the Malagasy Uprising, In Mananjary, hundreds of Malagasy were killed, among them 18 women and a group of prisoners thrown from planes.[7]


See also


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