March 6, 2021

First sentences for air traffic controllers judged by the December 2010 stoppages

First sentences for air traffic controllers judged by the December 2010 stoppages


Palma de MallorcaUpdated:

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The lawyers of the 80 air controllers from the Balearics that they were going to be tried in Palma as of this Monday for the strikes that took place in the airports of Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza in December 2010 have reached this morning a principle of agreement with the Prosecutor and with private accusations. Thus, 73 controllers would assume a crime of abandonment of functions and the payment of a fine. With regard to the seven remaining controllers, the Public Prosecutor's Office would withdraw the accusations that had been weighing on them up to now. The validity of this principle of agreement is subject to acceptance by the 80 defendants in their entirety.

In relation to the 73 controllers that would accept that they abandoned the service in the beginning of the «bridge» of the Constitution of 2010, they would pay 1,000 euros of compensation to each of the passengers affected by the strikes. In addition, each of said airport workers would also pay a fine of 15,000 euros. This fine would amount to 31,500 euros in the case of those who were also union leaders. The latter would also accept a disqualification of five months.

Initially, the Office of the Prosecutor proposed that the 80 controllers of the Balearic Islands should respond to the Justice of two possible different ways, either for an alleged crime of abandonment of the job and the consequent payment of a fine, or for an alleged crime of sedition, which could involve four years in prison. The agreement reached this morning between all the parties must now be initialed by the aforementioned controllers. In the event that a controller does not agree with the agreement, he will then declare at the oral hearing.

The trial began this morning in the First Section of the Provincial Court of Palma, with the presence of a score of accused. Last September, the Chamber had already foreseen that the appearance of the defendants would be staggered, in turn, in order to guarantee the continuity of the service and avoid possible problems in air traffic.

A complex case

The origin of the situation that has resulted in this judicial process can be placed in December 2010, coinciding with the "bridge" of the Constitution of that year, when the majority of Balearic air traffic controllers did not work, either did not join their shifts, or did not pick up the phone while on duty. That situation occurred after several previous months of labor conflict latent linked to the regulation of work days.

The 80 controllers now indicted filed briefs on those dates in which they alleged that they were not in a position to develop their function. For its part, the investigating judge of the case concluded that what was intended was to paralyze air traffic, without taking into account the repercussions that this circumstance could have on the people who had planned to travel in those days.

The actions of the Balearic controllers involved in the strikes caused delays in flights, lack of information, cancellations and the successive closure of the air sectors. This situation occurred not only in the airports of Palma, Ibiza and Mahón, but also in other aerodromes of the rest of Spain. All this led to the closure of air traffic on December 3, 2010. The central government decreed the alarm status a day later, on December 4, 2010, and the traffic finally resumed a few hours later. The aforementioned events eventually led to legal cases in only two autonomous regions, in Madrid and the Balearic Islands.

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