• Germany's news in English
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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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

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.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Outrage over ruling on 'brutal' gang rape of teen girl
The now convicted suspects, sitting in court in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and left partially clothed and unconscious in freezing temperatures. Now prosecutors are appealing the sentences for the young men found guilty, most of whom will not set foot in jail.

Dozens of Turkish diplomats apply for asylum in Germany
Demonstrators holding a giant Turkish flag protest against the attempted coup in Istanbul in July. Photo: DPA.

Since the failed putsch attempt in Turkey in July, Germany has received 35 asylum applications from people with Turkish diplomatic passports, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Hertha Berlin fan club criticised for 'anti-gay banner'
Hertha BSC beat FC Cologne 2-1. Photo: DPA

A 50 metre fan banner apparently mocking the idea of gay adoption has overshadowed Hertha BSC's win in the Bundesliga.

Germany stalls Chinese takeover of tech firm Aixtron
Aixtron headquarters in Herzogenrath. Photo: DPA

The German government on Monday said it had withdrawn approval for a Chinese firm to acquire Aixtron, a supplier to the semiconductor industry, amid growing unease over Chinese investment in German companies.

Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German towns, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd