Portuguese pilot convicted for complying with regulations

in News · 22-11-2019 01:00:00 · 2 Comments

The Portuguese pilot sentenced in Cape Verde to one year in prison, with a suspended sentence, for not having allowed an aerial medical evacuation, said he only complied with national and international regulations.

“It is a feeling of flagrant injustice. It is unspeakable, as I am being punished for having scrupulously complied with the country’s law and international laws. And even that is not enough for justice to have been done,” the 43-year-old Portuguese pilot said in an interview with Lusa.

With two decades of experience as a pilot - military and civilian - in Portugal and abroad, Nuno Miguel was sentenced last week by the Cape Verdean court of the island of Boa Vista to one year’s imprisonment, with a suspended sentence, together with the airline Binter, for omission of aid, for refusing to carry out a medical evacuation without the compulsory medical transport document and a stretcher to immobilise the patient.

“We are talking about commercial flights and not specific flights for aeromedical evacuation. All the other passengers and crew members on that flight had the same right to life,” he stressed.

The case dates back 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 night club, and the local health delegation requested medical evacuation to a hospital in the city of Praia, Santiago Island, on the commercial passenger link of the Binter company.

In court, pilot Nuno Miguel, 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 mandatory procedures for the transport of a patient with medical needs on a commercial flight. He claimed that the plane did not have a stretcher for its transport, so that, under such conditions, the safety of the crew and other passengers would be at stake.

“It had only two options: either on a stretcher or seated. However, the medical document precisely indicates that the patient is unable to travel sitting, and more so, with a bullet in the area where the belt is fastened, the patient is completely still, could not sit. Having no stretcher on board, there was no way to transport that patient,” he said.

For the pilot, at the time was also considered a possible scenario of change on board with the other passengers, given the worsening of the clinical condition, considering the conditions in which he would be transported and the perforations.

“With absolute certainty it would have very serious legal consequences, because, if the rules were not complied with, the company and the civil aviation agency would come after me, which they did not, taking into account that I scrupulously complied with the law,” he added.

In the sentence, the court considered that Binter had instructed its pilots to refuse to transport any patient whenever the MEDIF (international and mandatory medical document with information on the patient’s condition) that was handed over to them was badly filled out.

According to international regulations, the MEDIF is a mandatory medical report in cases where the passenger does not meet all the health conditions to perform an air trip, namely when they suffer from an illness or disability that affects their health and well-being during the trip or needs medical assistance or follow-up and/or special equipment during the trip.

Nuno Miguel has been out of work for almost a year now, a decision he made of his own free will when he was charged with impeding the provision of assistance - converted into a crime of omission of aid in this sentence - because he believed that there were no conditions in Cabo Verde for doing so: “I have to know how to fly. I am a professional and either operate by following the rules or, if some rules are to be complied with and others are not, you must tell me what they are. It is an impossible situation nobody could explain to me how to proceed in the future”.

“At the end of the day, all that is needed now is for an ambulance to appear at the airport and for the doctor to say that they are to be transported?,” he asked, guaranteeing that it is out of the question to return to work in Cape Verde.

For now, the pilot demands that justice be done.

He ensured that, in addition to appeals to the decision of the first instance, will appeal to all international authorities to denounce the case.

“To prevent other colleagues from suffering the same injustice that I suffered and ensure that air safety is not compromised,” he said.


This is perverse. How can the authorities prosecute a professional for refusing to break international laws which regulate his occupation?

By Ken Roberts from Algarve on 26-11-2019 09:35

My support goes to this pilot who has been wrong convicted.
I wish him all the very best

By Les from Other on 24-11-2019 01:34
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