Controllers convicted in aviation chaos
Seven Cindacta IV professionals sentenced to up to 2 1/2 years for leading 2007 strike
Were controllers at the time of Gol 1907 crash: Brasilia and Curitiba workers yet to be judged
Accused of leading a strike and defying the principles of hierarchy and military discipline on March 30, 2007, seven air traffic controllers at the Integrated Center for Air Defense and Air Traffic Control (Cindacta IV), in Manaus, were sentenced yesterday by the Superior Military Tribunal (STM) to prison terms ranging from four months to two years and six months imprisonment. They were indicted on charges of inciting disobedience or committing military crimes, disobeying a superior officer, and publishing improper criticism of superior officers, infractions foreseen in the Military Penal Code. Controllers in Brasilia and Curitiba who also participated in the protests have not yet been sentenced.
Sentenced to exactly two years, six months and nine days in jail, suspended controller Wilson de Alencar Aragon told the Correio that the STM trial was not impartial. "We had no intent to cause a revolt. We just sought to exercise freedom of expression," he says. According to Alencar, "The court did not follow the evidence or the trial documents. It was a decision that departed from the legal criteria." Having entered the profession through a civil service exam outside the military sphere, the flight controller intends to appeal to the Supreme Court (STF). "I followed the trial through the internet and saw that there were divergences over the length of my sentence. I will await the publication of the STM ruling and hope for a fair trial in the Supreme Court," he adds.
Of the 40 soldiers from Cindacta IV, seven were convicted, 32 suffered disciplinary punishments, and one was acquitted. While reading the opinion, which he authored, Justice Marcos Leal de Azevedo said that "freedom of speech is a constitutional right that protects both the right of the citizen and of the democracy, but no principle is absolute and may be valid in some situations and not valid in others. " The STM judged an appeal against the trial court conviction of eight Manaus controllers.
After the Gol Boeing 737-800 crashed on September 29, 2006, with 154 people on board, after colliding with a Legacy jet, flight controllers decided to hold demonstrations demanding the demilitarization of air traffic control and improved wages. On March 30, 2007, the operators' strike virtually paralyzed landings and takeoffs at airports around the country.