A FRENCH pilot was allegedly pinned to a post as air force fighter jets swarmingabove 'opened fire' using him as target practice.
The unnamed pilot has filed a legal complaint over allegations air force colleagues tied him to the target in a terrifying "hazing ritual”.
He says he was bound, blindfolded and bundled into the back of a pickup truck before being driven at breakneck speed to a secret location on the Mediterranean island of Corsica in 2019.
Roughly removed from the vehicle, he was tied to a post with a red cross placed above his head at Solenzara air base, reads the legal complaint.
He then heard what sounded like fighter jets opening fire and dropping shells around him for 20 minutes, with munitions landing at an estimated distance of 1,640 feet.
The complaint reads that "simulated shots" were also fired directly towards the victim.
The 30-year-old pilot is now suing the air force for “aggravated voluntary violence” and “deliberately placing others in danger” by “professionals, army staff and ranked officers”.
The complaint alleges two superiors addressed him with "sarcastic remarks" before forcing the pilot to wear an inflatable maritime overflight outfit, raise his arms and stand as a "human clock.”
After hearing the sound of fighter jet engines, the complaint alleges the pilot realised he had been taken to a live-fire target range, north of the base.
After 20 minutes, unidentified personnel untied him and told him to join the vehicle by jumping on his feet as his legs were taped, the complaint reads.
“They played Russian roulette with Mirages,” said one of his lawyers Silvio Rossi-Arnaud.
Those allegedly involved were swiftly identified as they filmed the scene and posted them on a WhatsApp group.
Mr Rossi-Arnaud said that the cruel prank was a costly one to the taxpayer given that “an hour of Mirage flight costs €15,000 [£13,000] in kerosene. They are playing with top-level military equipment in a monumental waste of public money.”
A spokesman for the French Air and Space Force, Col. Stéphane Spet, said the images were genuine, but that they gave the wrong impression the aircraft were directing fire at the pilot who was tied to the target, adding that the closest any munition round came to him was nearly a mile.
He told CNN that after an internal inquiry, "firm sanctions were therefore pronounced, including restriction to barracks, a serious sanction in an officer's and pilot's career”.
Colonel Stephane Spet, a spokesman for the French air force, said an internal inquiry had been ordered by air force command and those responsible had been punished.
However, Frédéric Berna, another lawyer for the pilot, said he had never been informed of sanctions. "They show the total impunity that exists in the Air Force," he contended.
His client was "no longer hoping for anything" in his military career, he said, but "awaits for justice to recognise him as a victim."
"He hopes that the institution will put these institutionalised hazing practices to an end, for future recruits,” he added.
The most severe punishment was restriction to barracks, Spet said. He did not say how many people had received this punishment, or for how many days.
Spet said that the pilot's safety was never in danger.
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