BRAZIL: A Brazilian federal judge convicts two U.S. pilots for their role in a plane crash that killed 154 people in 2006Record ID: 382728
- Title: BRAZIL: A Brazilian federal judge convicts two U.S. pilots for their role in a plane crash that killed 154 people in 2006
- Date: 18th May 2011
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) HEAD OF ASSOCIATION OF CRASH VICTIMS' RELATIVES, ANGELITA DE MARCHI, SAYING: "Justice. This (conviction) would give us a feeling that impunity doesn't prevail and that we can in fact believe in justice in our country; and that our court is here to defend our interests and to defend the truth. I think the truth has been widely reported and the only thing we must to do is fight for a tougher sentence which should include prison."
- Reuters ID: LVAEC6SQ3W16TASHTS6HMLF5VZJ8
- Location: Brazil, Brazil
- Country: Brazil
- Duration: 00:00:33
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement
- Story Text: A Brazilian court convicted two U.S. pilots of negligence for their role in the 2006 crash of a Brazilian airliner over the Amazon rain forest that killed 154 people, but the judge suspended their sentence.
Joseph Lepore and Jan Paul Paladino were flying a small business jet that clipped wings with a Boeing 737 operated by Brazilian airline Gol, causing the airliner to plunge into the jungle in one of Brazil's worst air disasters.
The association of the crash victims' relatives led by Angelita De Marchi was disappointed with the sentence and announced they will appeal the ruling.
Federal Judge Murilo Mendes of the state of Mato Grosso said late on Monday (May 16) the two pilots had failed to adequately check plane equipment that would have alerted them to the presence of other aircraft nearby.
De Marchi, who lost her husband in the crash, said relatives' association would pressure the court to sentence the pilots to a tougher conviction.
"We received this news with great resentment and sadness. We have been fighting for nearly five years for this conviction and punishment and after working for five years we receive this news of a mild sentence. The pilots had their jail sentence commuted to community service. In our understanding they will not feel the responsibility of their actions through this sentence," she said.
Lepore and Paladino, who were unharmed in the incident and managed to land their jet safely, have consistently denied responsibility for the crash.
Mendes suspended a four-year sentence, instead requiring that the pilots do community service in the United States. The judge also temporarily suspended their pilot's licenses.
The pilots were not in court during the proceeding. They have not returned to Brazil since the crash.
De Marchi said the families who lost their loved ones wanted Brazil's court to defend their interests.
"Justice. This (conviction) would give us a feeling that impunity doesn't prevail and that we can in fact believe in justice in our country; and that our court is here to defend our interests and to defend the truth. I think the truth has been widely reported and the only thing we must to do is fight for a tougher sentence which should include prison," she said.
Brazilian officials harshly criticized the U.S. pilots in the first few weeks after the crash, but a preliminary report in 2006 by the Brazilian Air Force said both aircraft had been cleared to fly at 37,000 feet (11,000 meters).
Attention later shifted toward complaints of air traffic controllers over excessive workload, low pay and blind spots in radar coverage.
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