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France charges first person over 2004 Sharm el-Sheikh plane crash

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By AFP  with Euronews
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A momument commemorating the victims of the crash was unveiled in 2006.
A momument commemorating the victims of the crash was unveiled in 2006.   -   Copyright  JACQUES DEMARTHON / AFP, FILE

France has charged a first person over a deadly 2004 plane crash off the coast of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Mohamed Nour -- the former chief executive of Flash Airlines -- was indicted for "involuntary manslaughter" in December, a judicial source has confirmed.

It is the first time anyone has been charged in the investigation, 18 years after the accident.

All 148 passengers and crew -- including 134 French citizens -- died when the Boeing 737 crashed into the Red Sea on 3 January 2004.

An investigation found the plan had gone down just three minutes after taking off from Egypt, but the cause of the accident has not been established.

A court case against Flash Airlines was dismissed in 2017 as judges ruled the charges against the Egyptian company and crew were "insufficient".

But the Paris Court of Appeal later ruled that the investigation had also failed to obtain an explanation from the low-cost airline's chairman.

A source close to the case told AFP that Nour was indicted by an investigating judge last month. The former executive is accused of allowing the plane's crew to fly without the necessary qualifications, training, or rest time -- according to AFP.

MARWAN NAAMANI / AFP / FILE
The wreckage of the plane was found off the coast of the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.MARWAN NAAMANI / AFP / FILE

Nour's lawyers have not responded to the indictment, while the low-cost airline has since been liquidated.

The families of the victims have welcomed the indictment after a long legal battle, where Egypt has been criticised for a lack of cooperation in the investigation.

"In 18 years of proceedings, we have often asked that the courts look at the company's responsibilities," said Isabelle Manson, president of the victims' families' defence association.

In 2019, France was ordered to pay the association €10,000 in damages for delays in the case.