Spanish court refuses to try inquiry into mix-up in identifying bodies from plane crash

A three-year inquiry into a mix-up in identifying bodies from a plane crash killing 62 Spanish soldiers returning from peacekeeping duties in Afghanistan in 2003 was again postponed.

National Court Judge Fernando Marlaska said in a ruling that there was no evidence of a crime of deceit in the death certificates. However, in the same ruling he said there were errors in the identification of 30 bodies.

A total of 62 Spanish soldiers were returning from peacekeeping duties in Afghanistan in May 2003 when their chartered Russian-built YAK-42 plane crashed into a fog-shrouded hill near Trabzon in northwest Turkey. Thirteen Ukrainian and Belarussian crew members also died.

A political row erupted months later when mistakes were made in identifying many of the bodies and some families were given the wrong remains.

Then Spanish defense minister Federico Trillo survived intense pressure to step down and two Spanish generals were removed from active duty over the case.

Turkish authorities had correctly identified 32 of the 62 Spanish bodies. A team led by two Spanish generals took charge of the remaining 30 but later DNA tests certified that those were misidentified.

The ruling can be appealed in the next weeks, a court official said.

There was no immediate reaction from the families about Judge Marlaska's decision to shelve the investigation.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova