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Continental Airlines and one mechanic found guilty in Concorde case

Christian Fraser Dec 6, 2010
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: A court in France has found Continental Airlines and one of its mechanics guilty of criminal wrongdoing and manslaughter. That stems from the crash of a Concorde supersonic jet in France ten years ago that killed 113 people.

The BBC’s Christian Fraser is with us from Paris with the latest. Hi Christian.

CHRISTIAN FRASER: Good morning.

CHIOTAKIS: Why did the court find the airline, Continental, and one of its mechanics guilty? Why was the airline lumped in with the mechanic?

FRASER: In short, it was found some years ago that a metal stripe that was left by a Continental DC10 on the runway was ultimately responsible for bringing down Concord, and ultimately the idea that Continental shouldn’t have been using titanium to repair its aircraft. It was a banned metal, and it was known within the industry that it did post a problem for aircraft tires.

CHIOTAKIS: What’s the reaction been in France, Christian?

FRASER: It’s been a fairly angry and robust response from the defense. They’ve already said they will appeal on Continentals behalf. Olivier Metzner, who is a celebrity lawyer here believes there’s been whitewash. And it’s interesting that three French civil aviation personnel have been acquitted while an American mechanic who worked for Continental has been given a 50-month suspended sentence. This is what Mr. Metzner had to say after the trial.

OLIVIER METZNER: They sought to protect France. To render a decision in the name of patriotism and not the law. This is a move away from the truth, and therefore justice. And we are going to appeal in order to reestablish this truth.

So I think for the families who have been looking for answers for ten years, there will be some satisfaction, but perhaps not entirely satisfactory given that there now will be a long drawn out appeal process.

CHIOTAKIS: Alright the BBC’s Christian Fraser in Paris. Christian thanks.

FRASER: Thank you.

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