Twenty years after the crash of a Boeing 737 off the coast of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in 2004, which killed 148 people, including 135 French people, the Paris prosecutor's office requested a trial against the ex-head of the Egyptian company Flash Airlines. AFP learned on Wednesday from a source familiar with the matter.
On January 3, 2004, the Flash Airlines plane crashed in the Red Sea three minutes after takeoff from the resort, killing 135 French passengers and 13 crew members, one of the worst airline accidents involving French involvement.
The judicial investigation launched on the same day of the tragedy in Bobigny was closed for the first time in 2017.
In 2019, the Paris Court of Appeal, seized by the families of the victims, ordered the reopening of the investigation by a Paris judge, judging the attempts made during the investigation to obtain the ex-president's statements as “inadequate”. .
The head of the Egyptian company Mohamed Nour, who had not responded to summonses from the French judiciary for a long time, was transferred to the interim status of witness assistant in this investigation at the end of September 2021, before he was finally charged three months later with manslaughter.
In its motions signed on December 22 and seen by AFP on Wednesday, the prosecution stated that the “numerous omissions, approximate calculations and summary analyzes” of the two pilots who died in the crash constituted “the proximate cause” of the crash.
For the prosecution, the main crimes are “obviously and primarily” attributable to Flash Airlines, which is accused of a lack of training for its pilots and poor working conditions that contributed to their poor reaction on the day of the accident.
But neither the legally liquidated Flash Airlines nor the pilots who died in the crash can be held criminally responsible.
On the other hand, the public prosecutor's office considers that Mr. Nour, as the legal representative of the company, can be charged with negligent homicide because he contributed to the occurrence of the tragedy by not ensuring the fatigue of the crew or the quality of their training.
The final decision on a case rests with the two examining judges entrusted with the case.
Mr Nour's lawyer did not respond to AFP's queries on Wednesday.
The families were deeply involved in the process and had themselves hired experts whose report, published in 2007, praised all those involved, including the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC), for not banning the company from flying.