Public Prosecution Service responds to Machielse Committee report on Julio Poch case
The Public Prosecution Service has taken note of, and endorses, the report by the independent committee investigating the facts in the case against ex-pilot Julio Poch. After an investigation lasting over a year, the committee concluded that the Public Prosecution Service acted lawfully in the case and was right to investigate the criminal offences reported.
The committee, chaired by Professor Ad Machielse, states that there was no covert extradition of Mr Poch to Argentina, because he travelled to Spain voluntarily. Moreover, the Public Prosecution Service was entitled to share Mr Poch’s flight details with Argentina and Spain. It did not act on the basis of a ministerial instruction or a personal order by the then Minister of Justice.
The committee also concludes that the Public Prosecution Service lawfully complied with the treaty obligation to provide the greatest possible degree of international legal assistance. The Public Prosecution Service regards this as an important finding. Such assistance is commonly provided in cases involving suspicions of serious human rights violations and, in the interests of the international legal order, the Public Prosecution Service cannot and must not disregard this requirement.
The committee also pays special attention to the witnesses in this case, who fulfilled their civic duty and acted in good faith. The Public Prosecution Service fully supports the committee in this regard. It is important for the legal order that witnesses are not held responsible for decisions taken by the authorities in criminal cases.
The Board of Procurators General considers it of great importance that the findings of the independent committee have now clarified matters.
The Board’s president, Gerrit van der Burg, states: ‘The report by the Machielse Committee shows that in this case the Public Prosecution Service acted in accordance with both the letter and the spirit of the Netherlands’ treaty obligations with Argentina regarding legal assistance, despite the very regrettable consequences for Mr Poch.’