No heads to roll in planecrash scandal, Bono says

21st October 2004, Comments 0 comments

22 October 2004, MADRID - Spain's minister of defence said Friday he would not sack any officials over the country's worst peactime military air crash in which 62 soldiers were killed.

22 October 2004

MADRID - Spain's minister of defence said Friday he would not sack any officials over the country's worst peactime military air crash in which 62 soldiers were killed.

Jose Bono said he had changed his mind after announcing Thursday milittary officials would have to answer for the soldiers' deaths.

The move comes after Bono blamed those behind the decision to save cash for the death of the soldiers who were killed, along with the aircrew of an ageing, former Soviet  Yakolev-42 aircraft, which crashed in Turkey on its way back from a peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan in May last year.

The minister told the Spanish Parliament officials decided to rent the ageing, former Soviet Yakovlev-42 instead of a more reliable Tupolev 154 aircraft, to save just EUR 6,000.

The Yakolev-42 had a series of technical problems and its crew were said to be exhausted.

The so-called 'Yak-42 affair' has become a public scandal in Spain after a series of revelations surrounding the tragedy, leading to the sacking of two generals.

Many of the bodies of the dead soldiers were wrongly identified when they were brought back to Spain for state funerals.

It was later revealed hasty post-mortems by Spanish forensic pathologists lead to mistakes.

Bono revealed Thursday that a month before the tragedy the defence department said the aircraft to bring back the soldiers should be changed.

The Yakolev-42 was rented through five subcontractors from different countries.

As Bono detailed the failings of the Yakolev-42 plane, the debate grew tense in the Spanish Parliament between the Socialist defence minister and deputies from the conservative Popular Party, which was in office at the time of the worst mishap in the army's history.

Bono said "measly savings" that did not amount to EUR 6,000 euros (USD 7,560) inspired the switch to a Yakovlev-42 from the Tupolev.

Bono said the Yak-42 had two serious defects - the cabin's intercom system and fuel sensor had been malfunctioning for a month - and the crew had been on duty for more than 23 hours at the time of the flight.

He also claimed that, before the accident, at least 16 complaints - which were "ignored" - had been filed by soldiers, army intelligence and the air force warning of the lack of safety on this type of flight.

In addition, he revealed that five companies collected commissions under successive contracts for the rental of the plane aboard which the 62 Spanish soldiers and 13 mostly Ukrainian crew members died.

Although Bono said "bad faith" was not among the causes for the accident, he emphasized that before the crash "there was a lack of diligence, zeal and military ordinances," and afterwards "there was a lot of haste, a lack of respect for the families and Spain, and above all, a lack of respect for the truth."

Trillo, who preceded Bono as defence minister, broke his almost four-month-long silence concerning the incident and explained that he had not said anything out of respect for the victims and the armed forces, but that now was "the time and place for truth."

He insisted that neither he nor any other high-ranking Defence Ministry official had made the decision to use the plane.

The debate grew most tense when the current defence minister and PP spokesman Eduardo Zaplana exchanged accusations.

Zaplana accused Bono of having used the families' pain for political purposes and the Socialist Party of looking to "lynch" the previous government.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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