Prosecutor Requests Indictment of Pilots, Controllers

 - May 29, 2007, 12:28 PM

A Brazilian public prosecutor has recommended that a federal judge indict four air traffic controllers and the two American pilots involved in the midair collision between an Embraer Legacy operated by ExcelAire and a Boeing 737 operated by Gol over the Amazon jungle last September. The prosecutor is requesting that one of the controllers, Jomarcelo Fernandes dos Santos, be charged with intentional manslaughter. If convicted, Santos could face up to 34 years in prison. The prosecutor has requested the three other air traffic controllers and the pilots, Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino, be charged with involuntary manslaughter. According to local media reports, the judge is not expected to make a decision regarding the charges for another two weeks. According to Joel R. Weiss, lawyer for the pilots, "The accident of Sept. 29 was a terrible tragedy and today the prosecutor’s [request for] charges against the pilots compound that tragedy. It is an injustice to charge the pilots, who are innocent of any crime. They obeyed the altitude clearance given to them by air traffic control, and followed all international aviation regulations. The reality here is that this accident was caused by one thing: air traffic control through errors, ineptitude and systemic problems put these two aircraft on a collision course."