Investigation nearing the finish line
Prosecutor is certain that there was criminal responsibility in the accident with the TAM plane that provoked the deaths of 199 people.
Mário Sarrubbo intends to hear Anac ex-director Denise Abreu
The inquiry that looks into the circumstances of the accident with the TAM Airbus A-320, which occurred in July of last year in São Paulo and which caused the death of 199 people, point to criminal responsibility and should result in a trial, according to São Paulo state criminal prosecutor Mário Luiz Sarrubbo. According to him, the work is advancing and the conclusions depend only on some final information from investigating experts. Sarrubbo said that he intends to hear soon, in Brasilia, Denise Abreu, ex-director of the National Civil Aviation Agency (Anac).
Yesterday, relatives of the victims of the TAM flight complained of the federal government's backing off from safety measures adopted for Congonhas International Airport, in the state capital, where the accident occurred. Meeting at a hotel in São Paulo, the group announced that it expects to meet with the minister on the 28th of this month. The representatives of the victims' families want to question Jobim, for example, on permission to land on rainy days and the return of stops and connections to Congonhas. This is one of the procedures that had been prohibited since the accident and which were (sic) newly authorized by the government.
"We want to know why there was this retreat. What improved in terms of safety at Congonhas Airport for him (Jobim) to want to reverse a decision that was really on the level of safety?", asked Dario Scott, father of one of the victims and president of the Association of Families and Friends of Victims of TAM Flight JJ-3054 (Afavitam).
For the president of TAM, David Barioni Neto, there was no retreat by the minister in relation to safety nor was there pressure by the airlines in the case. "Everything that was done remains. The runway is operating under the minimum restrictions that were established by the minister. All of us are honoring what the minister determined", he affirmed. Barioni Neto sustained that Congonhas is a safe airport and that there is no problem to consider it unsafe. According to him, one speaks of an airport that operates withing international safety standards.
The meeting of victims' relatives with the president of TAM and representatives of Procon [a state government consumer defense body] of the Public Defender' Office and the Prosecutors' Office has as its objective the creation of an indemnity arbitration chamber. The intention is to put the public bodies acting as intermediaries in the indemnification proposals proposed between the company and relatives. According to the Afavitam communique, the chamber would be an option outside the court system, with a standard procedure from the delivery of documents until the payment of values. Each relative will decide whether or not to participate.
Relatives of TAM victims discuss indemnities
Relatives of the victims of TAM flight JJ3054, who are meeting this weekend in São Paulo, for the sixth time, should decide still today if they will or will not accept the creation of a Arbitration Chamber to negotiate, outside the court system, indemnities for the accident. The tragedy, which killed 199 people, occurred on July 17, 2007, at Congonhas Airport in the state capital city. During the morning, they heard representatives of public bodies, such as the Public Defenders' Office, the Procon consumer defense bureau, and the Prosecutors' Office, which presented parameters to be used in the agreements. One of them is a ceiling of 1,500 minimum monthly salaries (R$ 570,000) per family, in reference to moral damages. As to material damages, there was proposed the inclusion of children from zero to 14 years of age, among other alterations in relation to references which are habitually used by the Courts.
According to the coordinator of the Procurators of Justice, Déborah Pierre, the new criteria will benefit the victims' relatives. The detail, which have already been accepted by TAM and by the insurance company that is taking care of the case, represent an evolution, according to the president of the Association of Families and Friends of Victims of TAM Flight JJ-3054 (Afavitam), Dário Scott. "We will study the proposal, but there were advances today and the (Arbitration) Chamber should be set up. It is an option for quicker agreements", he said.
He emphasized, however, that the indemnification question is secondary for the families. Scott affirmed that a just and rapid agreement would serve as an example of "punishment", for the airlines to not operate running unnecessary risks. In the evaluation of the representative of the São Paulo Public Defenders' Office, Renato de Vitto, the Arbitration Chamber is another alternative for the victims' relatives to accelerate the payment of indemnities which, if they were conducted through the courts, would take from 10 to 15 years. He understands that the proposal presented today should contemplate from 80% to 90% of the families who still have not made other choices. According to the president of TAM, David Barioni, who participated in the meeting, 50 indemnities have already been paid, and 46 families have turned to the North American courts.
February 16, 2008 - 20:54 -Last modification February 16, 2008 - 21:03
Part of transcription of TAM flight's black box has still not been delivered
Elaine Patricia Cruz
Agência Brasil Reporter
São Paulo - At the meeting that took place this Saturday, the 16th, in São Paulo, the relatives of victims of the aviation accident that killed 199 people, in July of last year, complained of the absence of 23 minutes of transcription of conversation between the member of the crew of the TAM plane which were registered on one of the two black-boxes sent to the United States for analysis.
"The junk that was sent to the United States is a farce, now proved by two investigative organs in Europe, in France and in Germany who were even in Brazil and set foot on the scene of the crime", affirmed Christophe Haddad, father of Rebeca, one of the victims of the accident and the first secretary of the Association of Families and Friends of Victims of TAM Flight JJ-3054 (Afavitam).
In a press interview, Haddad questioned the seriousness of the Center for the Investigation and Prevention of Aeronautic Accidents (Cenipa), a Brazilian body responsible for the investigation of the accident. "Cenipa had already told the police that there is nothing relevant. If the pilot and co-pilot were arranging going out to a pizzeria, let us hear. Who will say whether or not it's relevant is the police", he complained. "What do they want to hide from the families?".
According to the director of the judicial police of the Department of Judicial Police of the capital (Decap) Aldo Galeano Júnior, the principal problem with the investigation, today, is the disappearance of these 23 minutes of recording. "They say that they are irrelevant. The position of the police and the Prosecutors' Office is that, if they are irrelevant, why don't they show them?"
Galeano preferred to not affirm if there may have been fraud in Cenipa's posture in not presenting the 23 minutes of recording that supposedly disappeared from the transcription of the recording. "It is frivolous for us to conclude that there could have been fraud. But from the moment that these 23 minutes did not appear, a suspicion is created."
Galeano's expectation is that this part of the investigation, conducted by the police, will be concluded between May and June of this year. "We are within the timetable, but we had to file a restraining order to obtain this at the Supreme Court, which slowed the investigations". According to him, the result of the investigations, up to the present, points to there not being a sole cause of the accident. "We have indications of various causes", he affirms.
According to Galeano, the investigations into the accident are currently concentrated on the question of grooving (cuts in the runway) and the resistance of the asphalt of the main runway, where the accident occurred.
For prosecutor Mario Luiz Sarrubo, the investigations are advancing and there are several conclusions on the causes of the accident. "We already know some of the situations that contributed to the accident and which could, occasionally, yield criminal responsibility".
Sarrubo further affirmed that Denise Abreu, ex-director of the National Civil Aviation Agency (Anac) should testify in Brasilia, where she alleges she is resident.
Abreu has already been subpoenaed to testify on three occasions by the São Paulo civil police, but did not appear for any of them. According to the prosecutor, Abreu may continue to put off the testimony "as many times as she manages to justify" but believes that this time, the ex-director will appear for the convocation.