Senior military staff charged over Turkish plane crash

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The plane was bringing 62 Spanish soldiers from a peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan in 2003 when it crashed.

20 May 2008

MADRID - High Court chief prosecutor Fernando Burgos on Monday filed manslaughter charges against the former head of the Spanish armed forces and four other senior officers over the crash of a transport plane in Turkey in 2003 in which 62 Spanish soldiers died.

In papers filed with investigating judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska on Monday, Burgos accuses Admiral Antonio Moreno Barberá, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff between 2000 and 2004, of 62 counts of manslaughter over the crash of the Ukrainian-operated Yak-42 plane.

The four other officers, including Lieutenant General Juan Luis Ibarreta and senior commanders in charge of leasing the aircraft and coordinating with NATO, face similar charges. Federico Trillo, the defence minister at the time, is not among the accused.

If Grande-Marlaska accepts the prosecutors' arguments, Admiral Moreno Barberá would be the first person to have served as head of the Joint Chiefs to be tried in court. If found guilty, he could face between one and four years in prison for each death.

Exhausted crew
Burgos argues that Moreno Barberá and the other officers were ultimately to blame for hiring the plane to bring the troops home from a peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. An international investigation concluded that the aircraft never should have taken off due to technical problems and the extreme exhaustion of the crew.

[El Pais / Expatica]

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