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A pilot recruit was blindfolded and strapped to a target as fighter jets fired on him in a brutal hazing ritual, says legal complaint

May 8, 2021, 17:32 IST
Business Insider
A Dassault Mirage taking off from Solenzara air base in 2016.PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA/AFP via Getty Images
  • A French pilot was tied to a target on a live firing range as part of a brutal hazing ritual.
  • The unnamed recruit was tied up, forced into a pickup truck, and had a hood put over his head.
  • Colleagues in the French air force then dropped munitions around him for around 20 minutes.

A French fighter pilot has filed a legal complaint after a brutal hazing ritual in which he alleges he was kidnapped, tied up, and left on a live firing range by his colleagues in the French air force.

The incident, which happened in March 2019, was first reported by the French newspaper La Provence on Friday.

According to a report from the Agence France Presse, the recruit - who has not been named publicly - had just been posted to a base on the island of Corsica and was subjected to a form of hazing by his new colleagues.

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During the hazing, airmen grabbed the recruit and tied him up with adhesive tape. He was then forced into the back of a pickup truck and had a hood placed over his head, reports from both the AFP and La Provence said.

Photos published by La Provence show the recruit bound by the legs and arms, with a hood over his head. He is laying on his back in the back of the truck.

AFP, which cites the man's lawyer Frederic Berna, said he was driven to a live-fire range used by French pilots to practice dropping munitions. There he was tied to a target.

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According to La Provence, he was left there for around 10 minutes in total silence. Then, the man says, he heard Dassault Mirage fighter jets begin to fly overhead. The planes then started dropping live ammunition around him. The bombardment lasted around 20 minutes, La Provence reported.

The soldier also alleges that before he was subjected to the kidnapping, he was belittled by his superiors almost as soon as he arrived at the Solenzara airbase.

"What is this? What have we been sent again?" - the complaint alleges one superior officer said to the man, according to La Provence.

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The location of the base where the incident occurred.Screenshot/Google Maps

Berna, alongside another lawyer, Silvio Rossi-Arnaud, told La Provence that the man subjected to the hazing filed his legal complaint in the city of Marseille this week. AFP reports that Berna believes the complaint "could lead to charges of deliberately endangering someone's life and aggravated violence."

Speaking to La Provence, Rossi-Arnaud also noted that he and his client believe that the hazing was "a monumental waste of public money."

He claims that the cost of flying a Mirage jet amounts to roughly 15,000 euros per hour in fuel alone.

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French authorities condemned the incident and said that "strong sanctions" had been issued against those involved, the AFP reported.

The Air and Space Force condemns any activity likely to undermine the integrity, both physical and psychological, of its staff," Stéphane Spet, a spokesperson for the French ministry of defense, said in a statement given to La Provence.

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