Spanish ambassador to the UK in military crash scandal

Spanish ambassador to the UK in military crash scandal

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A report leaked by the Spanish Council of State shows that the current ambassador to the UK, Federico Trillo, could have prevented a military aircraft crash in 2003, in which 75 people died, back when he was Minister of Defence.

Following the report revealed by El Pais the Government announced that Trillo will be returning to Spain to take a new role in the Council of State, the supreme advice giving council of the Spanish Government.

Federico Trillo has not resigned despite appeals from families of the victims. In an interview to Spanish radio station COPE Trillo said that he is ‘’returning to the Council of State, which is my career’’ and that he had asked for this before summer 2016.

Spanish media sees it as an excuse by the Government. Eldiario.es states the Government is trying to make it seem like Trillo leaving the UK is part of an ongoing plan to renew diplomatic presence in 70 more embassies, and not due to the report scandal.

In the same radio interview Trillo blamed El Pais for manipulating the information in the report and suggested that the Council of State should start an investigation to know how was it leaked to the Spanish newspaper.

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Federico Trillo at the site of the accident in 2003. Photo credit Chema Moya (EFE)

The leaked report revealed that the Ministry of Defense was aware of information that could have helped in assessing the risk involved in moving the troops .

A chain of supply outsourcing seems to had been the main reason why the plane was not suited to travel, as they were not personally overseen by the Spanish Government. The plane’s black box was reportedly broken, a reason by itself not to fly and an obstacle for the crash investigation.

As stated by El Pais, from the 149,000 € (around £127,305) paid for the Yak-42 plane, only around 24 per cent  were used to pay the airline operating the plane, UM Air. All the rest went to four other subcontractors.

The Yak-42 accident resulted in 75 casualties, including 62 Spanish soldiers returning from Afghanistan, 12 Ukrainian and one Belarusian crew members. It is called the biggest peacetime tragedy of the Spanish military.

Federico Trillo, as Defence Minister, is thought to have been aware of this and had power to prevent the mistakes that lead to the crash. As El Pais shared, the cause of the crash was  ‘’exhaustion and stress of the pilots after 22 hours of flying and the fact that they were not trained to undertake this kind of situation, were disoriented and crashed the plane into mountain Pilav when they were bound to stop in Trabzon (Turkey)’’.

A sister of one of the Yak-42 Victims, Curra Ripollés, shared a video on Twitter urging the  Government to admit that Trillo is leaving London due to his mismanagement of the Yak-42 crash and not to mask it saying that it was already planned and that ‘’Trillo is leaving because the Spanish people want him to leave’’.

President of the Yak-42 Victims’ Families Association Miguel Sencianes said, ‘’We don’t want money, we want justice to be served. Someone has to take political responsibility’’. Trillo not resigning and leaving London for a new Government job in Spain will not satisfy this demand.

Opposition parties PSOE, Podemos, Ciudadanos and ERC asked for the resignation of Federico Trillo.

There is an ongoing online petition with over 110,000 signatures to make him resign from his role as Spanish ambassador in the UK.

 

Featured image credit: Isabel Infantes (Empics Entertainment)

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