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Last Updated: Monday, 15 November, 2004, 10:16 GMT
Spain generals face crash hearing
By Danny Wood
BBC News in Madrid

A Turkish firefighter at the site of the Ukraine airliner crash near Trabzon in north-west Turkey
Thick fog is said to have caused the crash
Two Spanish generals and two medics are to appear in court in connection with the misidentification of bodies after a plane crash that killed 62 soldiers.

The Yak-42 plane crashed in heavy fog last May as the troops returned from a peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan.

General Vicente Carlos Navarro and General Jose Antonio Beltran were in charge of the team that flew to Turkey to identify and repatriate the bodies.

The court is trying to find out why 30 bodies were incorrectly identified.

The crash of the transport plane was Spain's worst ever military accident.

The aircraft crashed as the pilot tried to land in heavy fog, killing everyone on board.

The appearance of the two generals in court along with two medical officers is one part of an official investigation led by Judge Teresa Palacios.

DNA tests

The judge is also investigating the circumstances around Spain's contracting of the Ukrainian-chartered aircraft to transport troops.

The crash has caused a scandal fuelled by reports that soldiers had criticised the state of some of the chartered aircraft before the crash.

At the time of the accident, opposition ministers and families of the dead men called on the then Defence Minister, Federico Trillo, to resign.

But then scandal turned to outrage when a year after the crash and months after a state funeral, DNA tests confirmed that 30 bodies had been misidentified.

The new Defence Minister, Jose Bono, says that no-one connected with the incident will stay in the armed forces, but families of the dead men have filed charges against former defence minister Trillo and want another state funeral so they can bury the right bodies.

As the four army officials appear in court, an exhumation is under way.


SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Turkey plane crash
26 May 03 |  Photo Gallery
Air disaster timeline
09 May 03 |  In Depth


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