Airbus and Air France Acquitted Over 2009 Rio-Paris Crash
Airbus and Air France were acquitted of manslaughter charges by a French court on Monday over their role in the 2009 crash of a flight from Rio to Paris that plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 228 people on board.
The verdict was a bitter disappointment for the families of the victims of the crash, who had battled for over a decade to bring Airbus, the aircraft manufacturer, and Air France, the main French airline, to trial.
But the ruling did not come as a surprise. Prosecutors had said at the end of the trial, after reviewing all of the evidence, that they would not seek convictions, arguing that there was not enough evidence to hold the companies criminally liable.
The decision had left families of the victims disheartened and infuriated. At the trial, which took place between October and December of last year, some of them angrily stormed out of the courtroom after the prosecutors announced their finding.
Both companies had repeatedly insisted that they were not responsible for the accident, which was the deadliest in Air France’s history. No individual executives or managers were on trial, and Airbus and Air France were each facing a fine of 225,000 euros, or about $218,300 — a negligible figure compared to their bottom lines. Families of the victims have already received financial compensation.
But a guilty verdict carried the potential to seriously hurt the reputation of the two aviation heavyweights. Chief executives for Airbus and Air France, who testified when the proceedings opened in October, were angrily heckled by some of the plaintiffs with cries of “Shame on you!”
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