Pilot files complaint with ICAO for prison sentence in Cabo Verde

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 25-11-2019 16:12:00 · 0 Comments

The Portuguese pilot sentenced in Cabo Verde to a year in prison for not carrying out an aeromedical evacuation, denounced to the International Civil Aviation Organisation that the Cape Verdean civil aviation authorities have, with this decision, ceased to have responsibilities.

The complaint, to which Lusa had access on Monday, was presented last week by pilot Nuno Miguel to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the United Nations agency responsible for verifying the implementation of international agreements on civil aviation by almost 200 countries and their national authorities.

In the complaint, the Portuguese pilot, sentenced this month by the court of the island of Boa Vista to one year's suspended imprisonment for omission of aid after having refused to carry out a medical evacuation without the mandatory medical transport document and a stretcher to immobilise the patient, believes that the Civil Aviation Agency (AAC) of Cabo Verde, given the content of the sentence and the legal process that was the target, is no longer the authority in relation to the air force legal structure of operators and crew operating in the country.

"This fact represents a huge risk to the safety of air operations in Cabo Verde. Nobody can be safe in the near future if that problem is not solved, since the transport of a passenger in critical health condition, on a commercial flight and without following the proper procedures, can and will put at risk the aircraft, the patient and other occupants, possibly resulting in an accident or a serious incident," the complaint submitted to ICAO said.

The case dates to 14 May 2018, when a man was shot and stabbed in the abdomen, on the island of Boa Vista, in the early hours of the morning, near a local club, and the health delegation requested medical evacuation to a hospital in the city of Praia, Santiago Island, by the commercial passenger connection by Binter.

In court, pilot Nuno Miguel, 43, commander of the Binter aircraft that made the connection that day between Praia and Boa Vista (and return to the capital), said that the request for evacuation did not respect the formal and internationally mandatory procedures for the transport of a patient with medical needs on a commercial flight. He also claimed that the aircraft did not have a stretcher for its transport, so that, under such conditions, the safety of the crew and other passengers would still be at stake.

However, on 14 November he was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for two years, for failure to assist, while the Spanish airline, for the same crime, was sentenced to pay compensation of 4 million escudos (€36,200) to the victim, who eventually survived. Tried alongside the Portuguese pilot - the court also refused to separate the cases - the perpetrator was sentenced to pay a fine of around €150.

The pilot and Binter have already said that they will appeal this sentence.

In his complaint to ICAO, the Portuguese pilot stated that during the trial the prosecution defended that when human life is at risk, the normal papers and procedures do not matter.

On the other hand, he said that the aeronautical doctors who testified during the trial said that the patient should never have undergone an aeromedical evacuation due to his medical condition, that he should never have been seated with his seat belt tightening the bullet's entry point as his intestines would probably have ruptured through the hole in the abdomen as soon as the pressure fell, causing a serious risk to flight safety, so he was only alive due to the behaviour of the commander.

He added that, during the trial, the executive director of the AAC said that there are no aeromedical evacuations in Cabo Verde due to lack of resources and that Binter CV can only conduct commercial passenger flights.

A week ago, in an interview with Lusa, the Portuguese pilot said that he had only complied with national and international regulations, promising to denounce the case in all instances.

In the sentence, the court considered that Binter advised its pilots to refuse to transport any patient whenever the MEDIF (international medical document and mandatory with information on the patient's condition) that is delivered to them is badly filled.


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