Germanwings: France closes manslaughter investigation into 2015 plane crash

Access to the comments Comments
By AFP  with Euronews
A rescue helicopter flies over debris of the Germanwings Airbus A320-211 near Seyne-les-Alpes.
A rescue helicopter flies over debris of the Germanwings Airbus A320-211 near Seyne-les-Alpes.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Claude Paris, File

France has closed its investigation into the Germanwings plane crash without pressing any charges.

Marseille prosecutors concluded that the co-pilot's actions were unforeseeable and shut down a probe into "involuntary manslaughter".

The Germanwings flight 4U9525 crashed in the French Alps on 24 March 2015 en route to Düsseldorf in western Germany from the Spanish city of Barcelona.

All 150 passengers and crew on board were killed, including 72 German citizens and 50 Spanish nationals.

Investigators established that the plane's co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had deliberately taken control of the aircraft and crashed into a mountain in the Hautes-Alpes region.

Lubitz had been taking anti-depressant medication, and had seized control of the plane when the pilot temporarily left the cockpit, investigators found.

He had reportedly consulted 41 doctors in the previous five years, including several psychiatrists.

Seven years after the crash, judicial authorities in France have concluded that the co-pilot's "suicidal" act was "not foreseeable" and "not known to anyone".

"No one could have acted beforehand to avoid the incident of 24 March 2015," the Marseille prosecutor's office told reporters.

"No serious fault, nor any deliberate violation of a duty of care or safety imposed by law or regulation could be blamed on Germanwings, Lufthansa (its parent company) or its managers or employees," it added.

Marseille prosecutors have also closed any case against doctors who may have been aware of Lubitz's medical situation in the months leading up to the crash.

Sophie Thonon-Wesfreid, a lawyer for victims' families, said that the decision to close the case was "extremely disappointing".

"It, unfortunately, confirms what was said from the beginning, including by Lufthansa, that [Lubitz's] action was unpredictable," she told AFP.

"It is inconceivable for the families that someone so affected did not attract the attention of Lufthansa," she added, pointing to the heavy responsibility of passenger flight pilots.

Germany had closed its investigation into the Germanwings crash in January 2017 and also dropped the charges, dismissing suspicions that the doctors who examined Lubitz were negligent and did not inform his employer of his depressive problems.

A memorial to the victims was built in 2016 at the scene of the crash along the Mariaud pass in France.