• 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
Nine injured after freight train crashes into bus in Osnabrück
The crash site in Osnabrück. Photo: DPA

A freight train crashed into a bus in Osnabrück on Wednesday morning, leaving several people badly injured, local media report.

In Pictures
Düsseldorf swoons as Prince William comes for royal visit
'Well hello Mr. Prince'. Photo: DPA.

Prince William paid a visit to the Rhineland city of Düsseldorf on Wednesday to celebrate the state of North Rhine-Westphalia's 70th birthday. Here's a look at his royal stay.

Brexit
Frankfurt attempts to charm banks away from London
Frankfurt am Main. Photo: DPA

Germany's finance capital has spotted an opportunity with the Brexit-wary banking beasts of the Square Mile.

How did this bike end up on top of Berlin’s Molecule Man?
A professional climber 'rescuing' the bike hanging from the Molecule Man. Photo: DPA.

Berliners are still scratching their heads over how a bicycle ended up dangling from the capital’s iconic statue.

Travellers stuck after dozy train driver forgets Freiburg
Photo: DPA

It's one thing to miss a train - it's another when the train misses you.

Berlin airport employee admits taking €150,000 bribe
Berlin Brandenburg Airport. Photo: DPA

The German capital's long-delayed international airport has been haunted by claims of corruption and incompetency.

Teachers' union: school burqa bans only isolate girls more
Women wearing niqabs. Photo: DPA.

A German trade union for teachers has warned of the consequences of banning certain religious attire in schools after a teen this week was told she could not wear a face veil to school.

Bundesliga
Bayern ban big bags and bottles for Bundesliga opener
Photo: DPA

Bayern Munich have tightened security measures at their stadium, banning spectators from carrying big bags and bottles, ahead of Friday's home match - the first of the new German league season.

Drugstore chain DM starts selling pepper spray
Photo: DPA

One of Germany's largest drug stores has started selling pepper spray due to "increased requests" from customers.

AfD accused of using neo-Nazi symbols on campaign car
Photo: Facebook of NO LEGIDA.

The Leipzig branch of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has come under fire for seemingly using Nazi symbols on a campaign car.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
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
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
8,582
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd