The paratrooper who became a quadriplegic 15 years ago will never know who was responsible for his accident

worst valentine’s day for the Clemente family it took place on a day like today in 2007. That fateful February 14, Alexander22, was left in a vegetative state after a parachute jump that should never have taken place due to atmospheric conditions: when he landed abruptly, he hit a stone and remained immobile forever.

His family searched tirelessly for 13 years that Justice should point out the person responsible (or those responsible) for the current state of the young person. It will never happen: two years ago they won a dispute, the Ministry of Defense compensated them and their cause was archived.

As usual, judicial channels are slow and desperate for those who want to know the truth and, above all, to search for those who were to blame for this incident. Because what should have been a routine parachuting exercise by the Air Force ended with the paratroopers landing 600 meters from where they were supposed to and with Private Clemente in an irreversible vegetative state.

The accident occurred when making a parachutist launch in the automatic mode in the Yechar area (Murcia); The first sentence that acquitted the sergeant in charge of this jump exercise stated that “The plane (was) drifting laterally to the right as a result of the strong wind.” All the teammates who threw themselves together with Clemente fell outside the marked area and suffered minor injuries.

Precisely the wind and the calculation of its drift were key in this mattersomething that was the responsibility of the Air Force sergeant assigned to the Zapadores Squadron, at the Alcantarilla Air Base (Murcia) and who was in charge of this exercise.

no personal liability

The first military court acquitted said sergeant, despite showing “many and serious anomalies in the operation of the service”; but it was not possible to demonstrate a cause-effect relationship between the actions of this non-commissioned officer in command of the exercise and the result that was produced.

Later, the Fifth Chamber of the Supreme Court forced in 2014 to repeat the trial after the appeal filed by Antonio Clemente, father and guardian of the soldier. In that first sentence, what happened was attributed to “bad luck”.

That “bad luck” left Alejandro with a degree of disability or global handicap of 88%tube-fed, and declared “unfit” for service.

After the annulment of the Supreme Court, the First Territorial Military Court he acquitted the same sergeant again in 2016 of a crime against efficiency in the service. A new appeal filed against this decision was again dismissed by the Military Chamber of the Supreme Court on July 4, 2017.

Alejandro’s father tried, with the help of his lawyer, Juan Martinez-Abarca Artiz, that the Constitutional Court protected them; the Prosecutor’s Office itself maintained in its allegations that the fundamental right of the plaintiff for protection to effective judicial protection should be declared violated.

However, the Constitutional Court dismissed the amparo appeal and argued that “even when the actions of the military court were considered irregularit did not imply a breach of an essential rule of the process to the detriment of the accusation, nor did it cause him material defenselessness”. And he reminded the appellant of the corresponding route “that facilitates the demand for patrimonial responsibility of the Public Administration”.

That was what Alejandro’s family did: in a contentious-administrative proceeding received compensation total of less than one million euros (they initially requested four and a half million euros) by the Ministry of Defence.

In the opinion of the Council of State on this matter, dated November 21, 2019 (an exhaustive summary of this case), it is recognized that “no ‘special attention’ was paid to the risks that the parachute drop entailed”which “was subjecting the members of the exercise that jumped to disproportionate risks, which could affect their ‘health and safety’, as, in fact, occurred when all of them were injured”.

The current Minister of Defense, Margaret Oakscame to visit Alejandro and his family in August 2012, after promoting him to honorary corporal, to ask him “apologies for the abandonment that I have been able to feel during all these years”.

Meanwhile, Alexander’s father, Anthony Clementhas always said that his objective is not to ask for justice, since he recognizes that this is the competence of the courts, but that Defense can draw conclusions that allow it to “know how to act” in future “tragedies” that may happen in the Armed Forces.

In short, that no more accidents of this type occur, simply attributable to the “bad luck”.


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