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Air France and Airbus face court over Rio crash costing 228 lives
A French judge has summoned Air France and Airbus to appear in court over a 2009 plane crash that cost 228 lives. The companies face possible manslaughter charges.
AFP - Airbus and Air France are to appear in a French court next month to face possible manslaughter charges over the 2009 crash of a plane en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris with the loss of 228 lives.
"The judge told us that she had summoned Air France and Airbus to appear on March 17 with a view to their possibly being charged," said victims' relatives association leader Jean-Baptiste Audousset.
"This is a turning point because this summons with a view to probable charges shows that the judge has sufficient technical elements to begin legal proceedings," said lawyer Olivier Morice.
The crash has been partly blamed on malfunctioning speed sensors, with Air France accused of not responding quickly enough to reports that they might be faulty.
The announcement came ahead of the resumption of a search for the plane's wreckage in the Atlantic on March 20 using a German mini-submarine.
Air France lawyer Fernand Garnault said: "There's nothing new in the dossier to explain why the instructing magistrate is envisaging charges when there is no new experts report and a new search is beginning on March 20."
No charges have yet been brought in the case, which had been suspended pending the plane's black box flight recorders being found.
A third search of the ocean floor to try to locate the black boxes ended in failure last May.
Flight 447 from Rio to Paris went down roughly midway between Brazil and Senegal on June 1, 2009, in the deadliest crash in Air France's history.
The crash claimed the lives of all 228 people on board, of more than 30 nationalities. Most of those killed were French, Brazilian and German.
Air France was in December ordered to pay 727,000 dollars (540,000 euros) to relatives of a Brazilian family that died in the accident.
The airline, through its insurers, had made compensation payments to the relatives of the passengers and crew, but continues to defend itself from litigation in Brazil.