Bulgarian Pilot Faces Jail for 2005 Air Crash near GreeceCrime | April 20, 2012, Friday // 19:20| views
A Greek court has declared four former employees of low-cost Cypriot airline Helios Airways, including a Bulgarian national, guilty for an air crash that killed all 121 people on board.
On August 14, 2005, a Boeing 737-300 flying on a flight from Larnaka to Prague via Athens crashed north of the Greek capital, killing all of the passengers and the members of the crew.
The crash was the worst accident on record for Greece and Cyprus.
On Friday, a court of first instance in Athens declared Helios' managing director Demetris Pantazis, flight operations manager Giorgos Kikkides, chief pilot Ianko Stoimenov and chief engineer Alan Irwin guilty of negligent manslaughter.
The defendants were sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment but the verdict can be appealed.
In December 2011, a Cypriot court ruled that the state prosecutors had not proved their case for manslaughter and acquitted all defendants.
The magistrates in Nicosia did not accept the claims that the crew had been incompetent and that the company had failed to ensure the safety and security of the pasengers.
At that point, the relatives of the victims who had gathered in front of court accepted the court's pronouncement chanting "Shame!"
The Greek prosecutor then lodged an appeal, which triggered protests from the families of the defendants.
According to one of the lawyers of a defendant on the case, the decision of the Athens court presents a serious problem because it is abnormal for the same people to be tried twice on the same charges.
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