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GERMANWINGS CRASH

GERMANWINGS

Lubitz sought ‘deadly cocktail of drugs’

Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who prosecutors allege deliberately crashed Germanwings flight 4U9525 in March, searched for a deadly cocktail of drugs on the internet, prosecutors in Düsseldorf confirmed on Friday.

Lubitz sought 'deadly cocktail of drugs'
Andreas Lubitz saw seven doctors in the month leading up to the crash. Photo: DPA

Lubitz looked into obtaining potassium cyanide, valium and “a deadly cocktail of drugs” business daily Handelsblatt reports.

The 27-year-old also appears to have looked into the possibilities for patient care in the event that a suicide attempt had been unsuccessful.

Until now the Düsseldorf prosecutor had only confirmed that he had looked into “possibilities for suicide.”

According to the investigators Lubitz hadn’t told anybody about his suicidal thoughts. Neither doctors, his employer nor his family knew about his intentions, the prosecutors said on Friday.

France probes manslaughter
 
French investigators said on Thursday they were expanding their crash probe to see if anyone could be held liable for manslaughter, as it emerged the pilot had seen seven doctors in the month before the disaster.
 
Lubitz, saw 41 doctors over the course of five years, French prosecutor Brice Robin said in Paris after meeting some 200 of the victims' relatives.

“The French penal code forbids me from opening a judicial enquiry for murder because the perpetrator is dead,” said Robin, who appointed three investigative judges to lead the manslaughter probe.

Grieving relatives were shown three different reconstructions of what had happened in the cockpit on their trip to Paris to seek answers about the doomed flight, according to the head of a disaster support group who attended the meeting.

Investigators say that 27-year-old German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz intentionally downed the plane en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf on March 24, killing all 150 on board.

Robin said Lubitz, who suffered from “psychosis”, was terrified of losing his sight and consulted 41 different doctors in the past five years, including GPs, psychiatrists and ear, throat and nose specialists.

Several of these doctors who were questioned by German investigators said Lubitz complained he had only 30 percent vision, saw flashes of light and suffered such crippling anxiety he could barely sleep.

Lubitz reportedly said “life has no sense with this loss of vision”.

However the doctors he consulted — including one who booked him off work two days before the ill-fated flight — did not reveal his mental struggles due to doctor-patient privilege.

“How to handle medical privilege and flight security when you have a fragile pilot” will be one of the key questions in the judicial inquiry, said Robin.

Anger over repatriation delay

Stephane Gicquel, the head of the support group, said the “stakes” in the expanded probe were to find out if there had been errors in tracking the mental state of the co-pilot.

“We can clearly see the prosecutor's positioning, to open an enquiry that will pose the question of manslaughter and, very clearly, faults or negligence from Lufthansa in detecting the state of Lubitz's health,” Gicquel said.

Some families, meanwhile, were left outraged when Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, informed them that repatriation would be delayed due to problems with the issuing of death certificates because of spelling errors.

The mayor of the French village of Prads-Haute-Bleone, near the crash site, said there had been slight spelling errors “of foreign-sounding names” on several death certificates.

After a complaint by the families of some schoolchildren killed in the crash, who had already planned funerals, a flight returning their remains went ahead as planned on Wednesday.

However to date the remains of only 44 Germans out of the 150 people killed in the March 24 disaster have been returned home for burial.

A total of 72 Germans were on board the doomed Airbus A320.

Robin said 30 Spanish victims would be repatriated on Monday, and that all remains of the people from 18 different countries would be returned by the end of June.

She said repatriations were also delayed because of differing laws on embalming the victims' bodies in the various countries involved.

Investigators only last month finished identifying the remains of all 150 people on the flight.

Unidentifiable remains would be placed in a “collective tomb” in the town of Vernet not far from the crash site.

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GERMANWINGS

Families return to plane crash site in French Alps a year on

Six hundred people will gather in a tiny village in the French Alps Thursday to mark one year since their loved ones died when a Germanwings co-pilot deliberately crashed his plane into the mountainside.

Families return to plane crash site in French Alps a year on
Relatives of the victims of the ill-fated Germanwings flight have arrived in Le Vernet to mark one year since the crash. Photo: Lluis Gene/ AFP

After a ceremony in the village of Le Vernet, about 80 of them will make a grueling pilgrimage to the crash site at an altitude of some 1,500 metres (4,900 feet).

Aided by volunteer firefighters and mountain guides, they will walk a muddy, snow-covered mountain path, much of it carved out to allow emergency workers to access the site.

A red stake planted in the soil marks the exact site where the plane went down, killing all 150 people on board.

The ill-fated plane took off from Barcelona and was headed to Dusseldorf in Germany when German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 27, drove it into the ground on March 24, 2015.

On Wednesday a young German woman had already made a six-hour journey to the site.

Her daughter was one of a group of high school students who were killed in the crash.

“At first, I did not think I would ever fly again,” she said, asking not to be named.

'Not the day for legal issues'

Investigations found that Lubitz had a history of depression and suicidal tendencies and the case has raised questions about medical checks faced by pilots as well as doctor-patient confidentiality.

Lubitz was allowed to continue flying despite having been seen by doctors dozens of times in the years preceding the crash.

After the tragedy, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recommended that airlines ensure at least two crew members, including at least one qualified pilot, are in the flight crew compartment at all times.

Top managers of Lufthansa — the parent company of the low-cost Germanwings airline — arrived in Le Vernet to take part in the commemoration ceremony.

The company — which has denied any wrongdoing — is facing a lawsuit in the United States from family members who argue Lubitz should not have been allowed to fly.

“We are here today to show our respect to the victims and show that we support them,” said Lufthansa chairman Carsten Spohr.

“Today is not the day to talk about legal issues, today we are just here, with 100 Lufthansa employees, to help the families and support them in their grief.”

The ceremony will begin with the reading of the names of the 149 victims in front of a headstone erected in their memory, with a minute of silence at 0941 GMT, the exact time of the crash.

A wreath will also be laid at the Vernet cemetery where the remains of unidentified body parts were buried.

(Andreas Lubitz. AFP)

No government officials will take part in what is expected to be completely private memorial.

“The families do not wish for their pain to be filmed,” said local French official Bernard Guerin.

The pilot's family will not be present.

Plans to take relatives to visit the crash site by minibus were called off because bad weather has made the forest road leading to it impassable.

The private ceremony comes after anniversary vigils were held in Spain and Germany, home to most of those killed in the crash.

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