• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
One year since the Alps plane crash
Germanwings probe: No conclusions 'anytime soon'
Memorial in Haltern for Germanwings crash victims. Photo: Marcel Kusch/DPA

Germanwings probe: No conclusions 'anytime soon'

AFP · 25 Mar 2016, 08:28

Published: 25 Mar 2016 08:28 GMT+01:00

Despite a quick start and rapid revelations over the cause of the crash, it has been harder pinning down who can be held criminally responsible, with the question of doctor-patient confidentiality at the heart of the case.

Hardly an hour and a half after the plane crashed into the French Alps on March 24, 2105, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin overflew the site. The plane was shattered into such small pieces that they were difficult to discern from the air.

But the black box voice and flight recorders were quickly recovered virtually intact and it was swiftly revealed that 27-year-old co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed the plane, killing all 144 passengers and six crew, mostly from Spain and Germany. 

Although Lubitz cannot be brought to justice for murder, Germanwings, a low-cost subsidiary of Frankfurt-based Lufthansa, could bear some responsibility for the disaster.

Three months after the crash, a three-judge panel in Marseille launched an investigation against unknown persons for manslaughter.

A central issue is that of reconciling doctor-patient confidentiality with
the responsibility of an airline for the lives of its passengers.

French prosecutors said Lubitz, who suffered from psychosis, was terrified of losing his sight and consulted 41 different doctors in the previous five years, including psychiatrists as well as ear, throat and nose specialists.

German prosecutors said a search of Lubitz's flat had found medical
documents, including a torn-up sick leave note from the day of the crash, which supported "the assumption that the deceased had concealed his illness from his employer."

The Marseille probe is complicated by the fact that German rules governing companies' responsibilities are different, as is the treatment of the violation of doctor-patient responsibility. 

The French investigators called earlier this month for "clearer rules" on
the lifting of medical confidentiality if pilots show signs of psychological
problems.

In their final conclusions on the disaster, French civil aviation experts
recommended more stringent medical checks for pilots, but stopped short of suggesting changes to the current system of flight deck door locks, which can only be opened by the pilot in the cockpit.

Story continues below…

German investigators are conducting a parallel probe, but are still bogged down in translation and evaluation of French prosecutors' documents, and said in March a "conclusion is not expected anytime soon."

Meanwhile impatient relatives are planning to sue the airline's parent company Lufthansa in the United States, claiming that Lubitz should never have been allowed to fly a plane.

"The only thing that interests me is that we find whoever... failed to prevent Lubitz from flying a plane," said Annette Bless, whose daughter Elena died in the tragedy, a day before she would have turned 16.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Today's headlines
 'One dead and two injured' in Germany machete attack
News channel NTV said there were scenes of panic in the city centre following the attack. Photo: DPA

A 21-year-old Syrian asylum-seeker killed a woman and injured two people with a machete Sunday in the southwest German city of Reutlingen in an incident local police said did not bear the hallmarks of a "terrorist attack".

Munich gunman planned attacks for one year: officials
Vigils continue in Munich to commemorate the victims, seven of whom were teenagers. Photo: DPA

The teenage gunman who killed nine people in Munich on Friday had been planning his attack for a year, according to German authorities.

Germany grapples with enigma of Munich gunman
A debate is already underway as to whether Germany's gun laws, which are already strict, should be tightened further. Photo: AFP

Investigators were seeking clues on Sunday into the mind of gunman David Ali Sonboly, the teen author of one of Germany's bloodiest killing sprees.

Munich shooting
 Social media a blessing and a curse in Munich shooting
The Munich gunman may have hacked a Facebook account to lure some of the victims to the McDonald's fast-food outlet where the shooting began. Photo: DPA

Social networks were both a curse and a blessing in the deadly shopping mall shooting in Munich, as police sometimes found themselves chasing fictitious leads and false alarms.

Munich shooting
Munich pulls together after shopping mall shooting
Photo: DPA

In the chaos after the Munich mall shooting, city residents spontaneously offered shelter to strangers - a move that Chancellor Angela Merkel said showed that Germany's strength lies in its values.

Munich shooting
Merkel deplores 'night of horror' in Munich
Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday said Munich had suffered a "night of horror" after a shooting spree in the southern German city left nine people dead.

Munich shooting
Munich attacker was shy video game fan
People laying flowers at the site of the shootings. Photo: DPA.

David Ali Sonboly was a quiet, helpful teenager who loved playing video games. His neighbours say there were no warning signs before his deadly rampage at a Munich shopping mall.

Munich shooting
Munich gunman inspired by rightwing Breivik: police
Photo: DPA

The lone teenager who shot dead nine people in a gun rampage in Munich was "obsessed" with mass killers such as Norwegian rightwing fanatic Anders Behring Breivik and had no links to the Islamic State group, police said Saturday.

Munich shooting
Turks, Kosovans and a Greek among shooting victims
Photo: DPA

Three Turkish citizens were among the nine people killed in Germany's Munich mall shooting. Three Kosovans were also among the nine victims.

Munich shooting
Munich gunman was likely not Isis terrorist: police
Flowers laid at the Olympia Shopping Centre underground station. Photo: DPA

According to initial investigations by Munich police, the young man who went on a shooting rampage in Munich on Friday evening was a lone gunman without motive, not a terrorist.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Analysis & Opinion
Nice was an attack on France, not on Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,782
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd