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Key evidence for Argentina's largest human rights case found in Florida

Former officials during Argentina's Dirty War are being charged in hundreds of instances of kidnapping, torture, and murder, and proceedings are expected to last two years, with as many as 900 witnesses testifying.

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A visitor looks at pictures of Argentina's disappeared covering a wall of the the former Argentine Navy School of Mechanics, or ESMA, the largest clandestine prison during the country's 1976 to 1983 military dictatorship, that is now a museum honoring the victims in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 27.

Natacha Pisarenko/AP

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A plane discovered in 2009 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, allegedly used by Argentina's military dictatorship to drop suspected leftists to their death into the Rio de la Plata, is now providing key evidence in the country's biggest human rights case ever.

The trial – which began last week – is the third involving the Naval Mechanics School, or ESMA, the era’s largest clandestine prison. Former officials are being charged in hundreds of instances of kidnapping, torture, and murder, and proceedings are expected to last two years, with as many as 900 witnesses testifying.

Along with the plane, crucial documents revealing the airplane’s whereabouts during Argentina’s bloody Dirty War, which took place from 1976 to 1983, were also recovered. Two other planes used by the military of the same model – a boxy Irish-built aircraft called a Skyvan – were found in Luxembourg and Great Britain.

An investigation by Argentine journalist Miriam Lewin led to the discovery of the plane, which is currently being used to transport goods from south Florida to the Bahamas, the current owner said in a report broadcast on Argentine television. It is unclear whether the owner was aware of the plane’s history prior to being interviewed by Ms. Lewin.

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