LA PAZ – Bolivian pilot Miguel Quiroga, who was flying the Lamia Airlines plane that crashed a week ago killing 71 people, was facing trial and had had an arrest order issued against him for retiring from the Bolivian air force, the government reported on Monday.
“Capt. Quiroga, who was the pilot of the plane that crashed, had a trial with the Bolivian air force, including a collection order,” said Bolivian Defense Minister Reymi Ferreira on Monday, according to the state-run ABI news agency.
According to Ferreira, Quiroga and four other military men who had resigned from the air force in violation of their contracts of service are being brought to trial for that reason, but they took legal protection measures to avoid arrest.
“They received professional training, in which the state invested ... and, suddenly, midway through their careers instead of fulfilling the agreement and using that knowledge and skill to help the (air force) and the state they preferred to resign,” Ferreira said.
The minister said that the military pilots had made a commitment that once they had been trained they would not leave the military until they had completed their agreed-upon terms of enlistment.
Leaving the military is allowed only in exceptional cases and in the five cases in question, including that of Quiroga, the government contends that there was no justification for the men to retire from the air force.
The trials, Ferreira added, sparked reactions that the air force was “acting in an overbearing manner and violating (the defendants’) rights, when it was defending the state’s interests.”
Ferreira said that the training an air force pilot receives costs the state at least $100,000 in the United States and Europe, ABI reported.