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live The prosecutor confirms the criminal convictions of Helios’ employees

15 January 2013 / 12:01:41  GRReporter
3382 reads

Maria S. Topalova

A three-member panel of the Athens Court of Appeal continues the hearing of the case against the employees of the former Cypriot Helios airline whose plane crashed near Athens on 14 August 2005.

The number of defendants in the trial is four, including the Bulgarian pilot Ianko Stoimenov.

In the pleading today, the prosecutor demanded that the Court of Appeal should confirm the convictions that had been imposed on the defendants on 20 April 2012. The court of first instance judged that Ianko Stoimenov and his colleagues should be sentenced to 123 years in jail, the effective sentence being ten years.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor rejected the request of the defence for a reinvestigation of the causes of the plane crash to be carried out. According to her, the court does not have sufficient information to be able to judge correctly. She also cited the conclusion of the Greek commission investigating the crash, which after consultation with the air safety office of the United States, has decided that it is not necessary to reinvestigate the reasons that led to the tragic incident, as there is no new evidence.
The pleading lasted more than two hours. The prosecutor considered in detail the obligations of each of the defendants and the responsibility that each of them bears. In her opinion, the two pilots of the fatal plane showed intolerable negligence and failed to comply with basic safety rules and procedures. Before the flight, they did not switch the pressurisation of the cabin from manual to automatic control, which, according to the prosecutor, was allegedly one of the main causes of the crash. They did not check the cabin pressure at regular intervals and did not release oxygen masks when it started to fall. According to the prosecutor, the pilots were not sufficiently informed about the rules of safety and showed average results in the controlling tests. Moreover, although they bore hatred to one another they were part of a team. According to the prosecutor, the first pilot of the company bears the responsibility for these irregularities.

Ianko Stoimenov’ defender, Stelios Voudouris stated that if the court's judgment confirmed the sentence, the purpose of the defence would be to implement it by monetary compensation. He did not rule out the possibility of the Areos Pagos Supreme Court appealing the judgment of the second instance court. It, however, rules out only on the legal issues in a trial rather than on the nature of the case itself.

According to lawyers who monitor the process, the trial in Greece is a paradox since a suit is being conducted in Cyprus as well. Moreover, the material evidence itself is in Cyprus too. It is also not clear if the court in Athens ruled one thing and the court in Cyprus ruled something different, which judgement would be right. During the pleading, the prosecutor relied exclusively on the findings of the Greek commission investigating the accident. However, it is not a criminal authority and its conclusions cannot be used as evidence in a criminal trial, not to mention the fact that several independent investigations refute the conclusions of the Greek commission.

The judges met the pleading of the prosecutor with silence unlike Ianko Stoimenov’s pleading, which was repeatedly interrupted and the prosecutor and the judges subjected the defendant to cross-examination. Only Dimitris Pandadzis of the defendants, who was the head of the now non-existent Helios company, appeared in the courtroom today.

The hearing was suspended for about two hours because of a bomb alert in the building of the Athens Court of Appeal.

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Tags: Ianko StoimenovHelios airlinePlane crashTrialConviction
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