Dead soldiers in Yak scandal finally identified
12 January 2005, MADRID-Forensic pathologists have identified the bodies of the soldiers whose identification was confused in an embarrassing mix-up.
12 January 2005
MADRID-Forensic pathologists have identified the bodies of the soldiers whose identification was confused in an embarrassing mix-up.
The identities of twenty-one soldiers who died in Spain's worst peacetime military air crash were mixed up after rushed post-mortems.
The affair was the lowest point in the so-called Yal-42 scandal.
In May 2003, 62 soldiers returning to Spain from a peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan were killed when the ageing Russian-built Yak-42 aircraft in which they were travelling came down in Turkey.
All the soldiers plus the aircrew were killed.
The Spanish government later admitted they had wrongly identified the bodies of the dead soldiers when they were hastily brought back home for state funerals.
It emerged that DNA tests later proved 30 soldiers whose bodies were analysed by Spanish medical teams in rushed autopsies were wrongly identified.
But the 32 soldiers whose remains were analysed by Turkish medics were correctly identified.
In October last year, Defence Minister Jose Bono said the tragedy happened because an ageing ex-Soviet military aircraft which had a number of faults was rented instead of a better plane to save the government EUR 6,000.
The former defence secretary Federico Trillo, who was in office at the time of the tragedy, has apologised to parliament but has refused to stand down as a deputy.
Judge Teresa Palacios ordered the exhumation of the bodies of 21 of those who were killed.
The move came after families of those who died asked for their bodies to be exhumed in order that their real identities can be established.
The affair has led to the sacking of two generals and an apology from the government.
Judge Palacios has also summonsed four military officers involved in conducting post-mortems which wrongly identified the soldiers.
They were named as General Vicente Carlos Navarro Ruiz, General José Antonio Beltrándoña, Commandante J.R. Ramírez García and Captain M.A. Sáez García.
Forensic pathologists have presented a report to the court which correctly identified the 21 bodies of the soldiers.
DNA tests have identified the soldiers.
The process of identification started on 22 November when the bodies were exhumed at graveyards across Spain.
The bodies will be re-buried and individual reports passed to the families.
General Carlos Navarro assumed personal responsibility for the mix-up of the bodies.
He admitted that the original autopsies carried out in Turkey were not done performed properly.
Maria Castellano, president of the Spanish Society of Forensic Medicine, said it took between three and six hours to perform a post-mortem after an accident.
But the four-strong team of Spanish pathologists in Turkey took 36 hours to complete all 62 post-mortems – 30 minutes each.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news