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The Past catches up with three criminals



The scales of justice got balanced a little over the past three weeks. First, Julio Alberto Poch, an Argentinean airline pilot was arrested in Madrid last month. This seemingly unassuming, plain looking man is alleged to have been a pilot serving under Argentina’s military regime in the 1970s. The Naval Mechanics School, where he was based, was a notorious center where the systematic torture of dissidents took place. Political prisoners were drugged, stripped naked and the loaded onto planes. The planes were then flown over the Atlantic, where the unconscious prisoners were thrown out one by one. Julio Alberto Poch is alleged to have flown one of these death planes. It takes a certain breed of human being to watch unconscious prisoners being loaded onto a plane, then draw up a flight plan into the middle of the Atlantic to dump them, one by one, into the sea. The best estimates of the "Disappeared" in Argentina’s Dirty War? Between 9000 to 30,000. Julio Alberto Poch made a lot of flights.


Thugs beware: committing genocide will catch up with you; today, Ugandan police, acting on a tip from Interpol, arrested Idelphonse Nizeyimana in Kampala. Known as the "Butcher of Butare", Nizeyimana (bottom row, middle) reportedly ordered the massacre of tens of thousands of minority Tutsis in what’s become known as the Rwandan Genocide. A conservative ballpark figure of the casualties is between 600,000 to 900,000. The casualty count took only 100 days. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda issued a 23-page long indictment for Nizeyimana. He was accused of five counts of genocide, incitement and complicity of genocide, and crimes against humanity. In retrospect, Julio Alberto Poch (see above) can’t hold a candle to Mr. Nizeyimana. Mr. Nizeyimana at some point should be apprised that currently, Rwanda is a democracy that prohibits discrimination based on ethnicity, race, or religion.

And finally, for the Culture and Arts fans, Roman Polanki was arrested last week in Switzerland, and will finally be brought to account for drugging and raping a 13 year-old girl in 1977. The Swiss very wisely have refused bail for Polanski, who skipped out on the charges from Los Angeles in 1978. The stakes for Polanski are high. He’s 76 years old, and incarceration in America is a very nasty prospect for man of his age. His life has been a litany of miserable experiences – from having escaped Nazi persecution during the war, to the brutal murder of his wife Sharon Tate by the Manson gang. Was he a disturbed man when he committed his crime? No doubt. Unfortunately for him, to his list of life woes must now be added "apprehended rapist."

For an interesting viewpoint on the justice of Polanski’s arrest, read author Robert Harris’ op-ed piece in the New York Times: