Thursday, February 14, 2008, 19:16
STJ to decide Legacy pilots' habeas corpus
The pilots want to be heard in the USA. Accident victims' relatives hope that the STJ will deny the pretention.
Anne Warth, of Agência Estado
SÃO PAULO - Minister Paulo Gallotti, of the 6th Chamber of the Superior Tribunal of Justice (STJ), should judge this Friday, the 15th, the request for a habeas corpus filed on February 1 by Americans Joseph Lepore and Jean Paul Paladino, pilots of the Legacy jet which collided with the Gol Boeing on September 29, 2006. The accident resulted in the deaths of the 154 people who were on Flight 1907.
Lepore and Paladino asked to be interrogated by the Brazilian courts in the United States, under the allegation that they "could not afford the cost" of coming to Brazil to answer legally., In the same petition, the pilots said that they did not refuse to answer in the trial, but that "they did not want to leave their families".
"Their allegation that they could not afford the costs of coming to Brazil, in this habeas corpus, is an attack on our sovereignty. They want a Brazilian judge to come to the USA and interrogate them. It is making fun of the courts and of the victims' families", affirmed Rosane Guhtjar, widow of one of the victims.
At the first hearing in the case, undertaken on August 27, 2007 in the Court of Sinop (MT), the pilots did not appear, under the same allegation. However, a document sent by judge Murilo Mendes to the defendants, on July 10, before the hearing, clarified that the costs of the trial would be borne by the Brazilian courts.
The U.S. Department of Justice responded, on August 10, that it had received and translated the demand to the Americans. Even so, they did not come to the country to testify, and judge Murillo Mendes decided that the pilots would be judged in their absence. The American are appealing this decision and solicit, once more, to be heard in their own country.
The accident victims' relatives hope that the STJ will reject the habeas corpus petition. Federal appeals judge Cândido Ribeiro, of the Third Chamber of the Regional Federal Tribunal of the First Region, had already denied the first petition in this sense, on November 27.
The Third Chamber had already conceded the devolution of Lepore and Paladino's passports on December 2, 2006. On December 5, besides the passports, the pilots received a document in which they assured that they would return to Brazil for the judgment.They signed the document in the presence of the American consul and a certified translator. Now, they allege that they did not know what they were signing, because the text was in Portuguese.
On February 27, minister Paulo Galotti should judge the Positive Conflict of Jurisdiction, raised by judge Murilo Mendes in October, 2007, and decide if flight controllers Jomarcelo Fernandes dos Santos, Lucivaldo Tibúrcio de Alencar, Leandro José Santos de Barros and Felipe Santos dos Reis should be judged by the Federal Courts or by the Military Courts, since there are already cases against them in the two bodies.
While the habeas corpus and the conflict of jurisdiction are not judged, both the suits involving victims' relatives remain stopped in the courts. [NT: this makes no sense in Portuguese, either.]