French military pilot tied up on firing range during bombing as a hazing prank

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A French pilot filed a complaint after being subjected to a hazing ritual in which he was tied to a target and had fighter jets open fire around him, his lawyer said.

The young man had just been posted to an air base in the south of the island of Corsica in March 2019 when he was seized by colleagues and tied up with duct tape, his lawyer said, confirming details released for the first time in the newspaper La Provence.

After being bagged over his head, the 30-something recruit was transported to a live-fire range, strapped to a target, then heard fighter jets open fire and drop ammunition around him. for 20 minutes, the newspaper reported.

The man’s lawyer, Frédéric Berna, told AFP that he had filed a complaint for the incident in a court in the city of Marseille “in the middle of the week”, which could lead to accusations of deliberate endangerment of a person’s life and aggravation of violence.

Videos and photos of the hooded and motionless victim, in which the perpetrators are clearly visible, have been handed over to prosecutors.

The revelations come just months after the conviction of three French soldiers following a brutal initiation ceremony at the country’s most prestigious military academy.

The men were convicted of manslaughter in January following the death of a young recruit who drowned at the Saint-Cyr academy in 2012.

The 24-year-old victim had been invited to swim in swampy waters in the middle of the night, weighed down by the equipment, to the sound of the ride of Wagner’s Valkyries.

Asked about the allegations in Corsica, a spokesman for the French Air Force told AFP that an investigation had been opened once the chief of staff became aware of the incident. in May 2019.

“Severe sanctions” have been pronounced against the perpetrators, said the spokesperson, without specifying the sanction or the ranks of those involved.

“The Air Force condemns any activity that could cause physical or psychological damage to its personnel,” he said.

Bullying and humiliating initiation ceremonies, known as hazing, are common in armed forces around the world and have been linked to mental health issues, suicides and sometimes murder.

A Russian soldier was sentenced to 24 years in prison last January after he shot eight of his colleagues in 2019 who he said had made his life “hell”.

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