Friday 20 October 2017

Co-pilot of plane which crashed in Alps killing 150 acted alone, say prosecutors

Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot in the crash of a Germanwings plane in the Alps, acted alone, prosecutors concluded
Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot in the crash of a Germanwings plane in the Alps, acted alone, prosecutors concluded

The co-pilot in the crash of a Germanwings plane in the French Alps in 2015 in which 150 people died acted alone, prosecutors have concluded.

All 150 people aboard Flight 9525, including co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, were killed in the tragedy.

The German prosecutors said they have closed their investigation, concluding there were no indications that anybody other than Lubitz was involved in the intentional crash.

Lubitz locked the captain out of the cockpit and deliberately set the plane on a collision course with a mountainside on March 24 2015.

The plane was on its way from Barcelona to Duesseldorf.

Lubitz had suffered from depression in the past, but authorities and his airline later deemed him fit to fly.

He suffered from sleeplessness and feared losing his vision in the months leading up to the crash, but he hid that from his employer.

Prosecutor Christoph Kumpa said no third party was involved or aware that Lubitz was planning to crash the plane.

Among the passengers was a group of 15 students and two teachers from a high school in the western German town of Haltern who were flying home from an exchange trip to Spain.

Christof Wellens, a lawyer representing 35 families who lost loved ones in the crash, said some relatives were upset that the case had been closed.

"Some relatives view the closure of the case in Germany with horror because there are a lot of emotions, even two years after their family members were murdered," said Mr Wellens.

"They don't understand why only Germanwings and Lufthansa should be responsible. I think there are actual people who could be held responsible too."

Heinz Joachim Schoettes, a spokesman for the Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings, which has since replaced the Germanwings brand, welcomed the prosecutor's decision.

Mr Wellens said the civil cases would not be affected by the Duesseldorf decision because the claims are being directed at Germanwings and its parent company Lufthansa, not at the doctors who assessed Lubitz.

He added that the case is being pursued on the basis of contractual obligations between the airline and its passengers.

Several victims' families last year also filed a lawsuit in the US against an Arizona-based flight school where Lubitz was trained.

They allege that the school failed to screen his medical background properly. But Mr Schoettes said the US case was without merit.

French authorities have been conducting a separate investigation which also seeks to determine eventual criminal responsibility for the crash.

Many airlines and regulators have made changes since the tragedy and now require at least two people to be in the cockpit at any given time to prevent similar incidents.

AP

Press Association

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