Brazil prosecutors want American pilots in prison
SAO PAULO — Brazilian federal prosecutors said Tuesday they are seeking the imprisonment and extradition of the two American pilots involved in the 2006 crash of an airliner that resulted in 154 deaths.
In 2011, a federal judge ruled that pilots Joseph Lepore, and Jan Paladino were negligent for not verifying that anti-collision equipment and a device that would have alerted controllers to their location were functioning in their Embraer Legacy 600 executive jet. They were convicted of impeding the safe navigation of an airplane.
Lepore and Paladino, who are in the United States, have denied that accusation.
While they were sentenced to four years in prison the sentence was converted into community service in the United States.
A statement posted on the federal prosecutor's web site said prosecutor Lindora Maria Araujo asked the federal appeals court to request their extradition to Brazil to appear before a Brazilian court and "ensure the application of the sentence" in Brazil.
"The request for their arrest and extradition is aimed at preventing the two pilots' complete impunity." the statement added.
If extradition is denied, prosecutors want the sentence to be applied in the United States or that the men be tried there.
Theo Dias, the Brazilian lawyer for the two American pilots was not available for immediate comment.
The Embraer Legacy jet collided with a Boeing 737. The smaller plane landed safely while the larger jet crashed into the jungle, killing all aboard.
It was Brazil's worst air disaster until a jet ran off a runway less than a year later in Sao Paulo and burst into flames, killing 199 people.
Neither Lepore nor Paladino were in Brazil when they were convicted and they have not returned to the South American nation since being allowed to leave about two months after the crash.
In December 2008, a Brazilian air force report concluded that the U.S. pilots might have contributed to the crash by inadvertently turning off the plane's transponder and collision-avoidance system. However, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board blamed the collision mostly on shortcomings in Brazil's military-run air traffic control system.