Airman gets 14 months in Gol plane crash
Jomarcelo Fernandes was sentenced for negligence and for having ignored safety rules, which directly caused the collision, killing 154
Mariângela Gallucci / BRASILIA - O Estado de S.Paulo
The Military Courts yesterday convicted one of five air traffic controllers accused by the Military Prosecutors' Office of involvement in the collision of a Gol Boeing (flight 1407 [sic]) and a Legacy jet, which killed 154 people in September of 2006.
Third sergeant Jomarcelo Fernandes dos Santos was sentenced to 1 year and 2 months of detention for manslaughter - homicide when there is no intent to kill.
Lawyer alleges that airman did not know English and could not speak with the pilots
Absolved were João Batista da Silva, Felipe Santos Reis, Lucivando Tibúrcio de Alencar and Leandro José Santos de Barros. Santos was working on the day of the accident at Cindacta-1, in Brasilia. According to the accusation, his conduct was negligent and he failed to observe safety rules, directly causing the collision between the two aircraft. According to the indictment, he did not note the disappearance of the signal of the Legacy's transponder (the anticollision device which warns the pilot of the possibility of a midair collision), he did not direct the pilot to make a frequency change, and he did not heed the altitude level in the airway and turned the flight over to his relief without alerting him of the irregularities.
Santos did not want to give interviews after hearing the conviction imposed by 4 votes to 1 by the hearing board of the 11th Military Judicial Circumscription, in Brasilia. His lawyer, Roberto Sobral, affirmed that he will appeal to the Superior Military Tribunal (STM) itself and, if necessary, to the Supreme Court. He said that his client did not have a sufficient level of English to direct a foreign pilot - in this case, the Legacy's crew.
According to Sobral, the airman is on leave and, if convicted after all appeals, will have the right to sursis - a suspended sentence. "The conviction is unacceptable", the lawyer affirmed. "We were not allowed to prove that he doesn't speak English and was made to sit at a console and coordinate the flights of foreign pilots", he said. The lawyer further remembered that another trial of the controller is underway, in the Federal Court in Sinop, Mato Grosso.