German man sues over wrong photo of co-pilot

Court proceedings opened on Monday against an Austrian newspaper for publishing a photo of a German man wrongly identified as the co-pilot who officials say deliberately crashed a Germanwings plane in the French Alps in March.

German man sues over wrong photo of co-pilot
Image: Screenshot from media watchdog Kobuk

The man is suing the Österreich newspaper at a court in Vienna for defamation and infringement of personal rights. His lawyer, Maria Windhager, said the image had had “serious repercussions” for her client who had been depicted as a “mass murderer”.

The Airbus 320 was en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf on March 24th when investigators say co-pilot Andreas Lubitz flew the jet into a mountain, killing all 150 people on board.

Shortly after the incident, Österreich printed a cover image which it said showed the 27-year-old co-pilot.

But in reality, the shot was of another German who merely shared the same first name as Lubitz.

The image had first emerged on Twitter before being picked up by photo agencies and distributed to news outlets across the globe.

In Austria, the picture also appeared in the Krone tabloid but unlike Österreich, the paper had used a blurred version and published a correction once the error became apparent.

Windhager said there had been an out-of-court settlement with Krone.

The court proceedings against Österreich are set to continue mid-September, but a lawyer for the paper has hinted that it might be willing to also settle the matter out of court.