OTHER NEWS

STAFF REPORTER
THE Spanish Air Force has arrested the head of 801 Search and Rescue Squadron based at Son Sant Joan military air base in the Balearics for possible “inappropriate” use of a Super Puma helicopter and a CASA C212 transport plane at a wedding in Formentera last weekend.

Military sources said yesterday that both the state Air Force and General Air Service to which the Rescue Squadron belongs ordered the arrest of the Squadron leader, Lieutenant Colonel Fernando Delgado and of the helicopter pilot, both men with ample experience in air rescue missions.

Air Force chiefs were forced to abandon previous engagements yesterday to join an official investigation being led by Lieutenant General Fernando Lens who has sent a delegation to the Balearics to conduct an inquiry.

A spokesman at the Ministry of Defence meanwhile said that there have been more than two arrests in connection with the incident last weekend after which it had been ascertained that improper use was made of the helicopter and plane. “It is possible,” said the source, “that yet another aircraft may have been used to ferry guests to the celebration in Formentera.” Central Government is facing a barrage of questions from Opposition members in Congress about how the rescue aircraft, which should technically be on call for an emergency at any given moment, came to be used for a wedding celebration.

It is reportedly not the first occasion on which there has been “inappropriate” use made of military aircraft in the Balearics.
In August last year, it came to official notice that a search and rescue craft had been used following a luncheon at an illegal aerodrome in Ses Salines. The pilot had apparently given families and friends a treat by “giving them a ride” in a military craft.

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