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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 January, 2005, 00:07 GMT
Argentine 'sought abuse inquiry'
Officers help Adolfo Scilingo in court
Mr Scilingo complained of feeling ill on Friday
An Argentine ex-naval officer on trial in Spain for alleged crimes against humanity nearly 30 years ago has testified for the first time.

Adolfo Scilingo, 58, had previously admitted he had dumped detainees into the sea from aircraft in 1977.

But he later retracted the confession and, in court, said he had made up the story to provoke an investigation into the country's so-called Dirty War.

Spanish judges are allowed to try cases of alleged genocide in other countries.

"I testified so it would all be investigated. I said a lot of nonsense so it would be investigated," Mr Scilingo said, the Associated Press news agency reported.

He rehearsed his confession, he added, and took most of the information from what was being published at the press during that time.

He also asked for protection for his family, saying he received threats against them from Argentine sailors.

'Death flights'

Mr Scilingo faces 30 charges of murder, 93 of causing injury, 255 of terrorism and 286 of torture. He denies all of them.

In 1995, Mr Scilingo told a journalist of so-called "death flights", during which drugged political prisoners would be stripped naked and flung, "one by one", out of aircraft flying over the ocean.

Mr Scilingo went to Spain in 1997 and was remanded for trial in 2001. He later said his account of the "death flights" were not true.

He has protested his innocence and went on hunger strike in December.

Mr Scilingo arrived at the national court in Madrid in an ambulance on Friday and complained of feeling ill.

The court heard excerpts from comments Mr Scilingo made in 1997 to an investigating magistrate about his part in throwing 30 drugged, naked dissidents off aircraft into the Atlantic.

Between 10,000 and 30,000 people deemed to have been left-wing opponents of the Argentine regime were killed or vanished between 1976 and 1983.

Mr Scilingo is the first person to be tried under legislation that allows crimes against humanity to be prosecuted in Spanish courts, even if they were committed elsewhere.

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