Germanwings Could Face Involuntary Homicide Charges in Alps Crash

Comes the day after the first victim's body was returned to relatives.

ByMEGHAN KENEALLY
June 11, 2015, 1:28 PM
PHOTO: Rescue workers work at debris of the Germanwings jet at the crash site near Seyne-les-Alpes, France, March 26, 2015.
Rescue workers work at debris of the Germanwings jet at the crash site near Seyne-les-Alpes, France, March 26, 2015.
Laurent Cipriani/AP Photo

— -- The criminal investigation into the Germanwings plane crash has concluded that the co-pilot was the one responsible for purposefully flying the plane into the French Alps and now prosecutors may file involuntary homicide charges against the airline due to negligence, investigators announced today.

Because the investigation concluded that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was solely responsible for the March crash, and they are unable to charge him posthumously, authorities are now examining the airline's potential liability.

Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin noted that European regulations mandate that the individual is the only one who can request health records being handed over to his employer, which could have prevented the airline from knowing about his medical conditions.

"French law doesn’t allow the prosecutor to prosecute the co-pilot for voluntary homicide because he is dead -- even though authorities have determined that he voluntarily and possibly with premeditation crashed the plane killing all aboard,” Robin said in French.

PHOTO: In this Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009 photo, Andreas Lubitz competes at the Airportrun in Hamburg, northern Germany.
In this Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009 photo, Andreas Lubitz competes at the Airportrun in Hamburg, northern Germany.
Michael Mueller/AP Photo

Not only did Lubitz have issues with depression but he also feared he was going blind and would lose his job, Robin said.

Lubitz's medical records were a major part of the case and Robin said that it was clear that he had been trying to conceal his illness.

"I believe deep down he knew that if his employers knew about his eyesight loss ... then he would lose his license and since [flying] was his main objective in life, the idea was unbearable to him," Robin said at a news conference today.

Lubitz saw 41 doctors in the past five years, including seven doctors during the month before the March 24 crash alone, Robin said.

PHOTO: French prosecutor Brice Robin holds a press conference on the Germanwings crash, which happened March 24th in the French Alps, June 11, 2015, in France.
French prosecutor Brice Robin holds a press conference on the Germanwings crash, which happened March 24th in the French Alps, June 11, 2015, in France.
APTN

Several of the doctors "found that he was very down, very unsure of himself ... and he gave them the impression that he was psychologically unstable," according to Robin.

The crux of the rest of the investigation will focus on how medical secrecy laws prevented the company from knowing Lubitz's interactions with doctors in a way that, in this case, turned fatal. Lubitz and all 149 others on board the Dusseldorf-bound plane were killed in the crash.

"Current regulations don’t require medical personnel outside the airline to communicate any info about their patient," Robin said. "How can we reconcile medical secrecy with the info that an employer like an airline needs to make a determination on the aptitude of its employee to fly a plane?"

Robin noted that the involuntary homicide case will focus on "someone who was negligent" but that specific subject has not yet been identified. Germanwings is a subsidiary of Lufthansa and both will be the subject of the ongoing investigation, Robin said.

"This could involve Lufthansa or Germanwings but at the moment we don't have the evidence to bring charges against those companies," Robin said.

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