Thu, Nov 16, 2006
Suspect Investigation Continues To Drag On
Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino are
still in seclusion in a Rio de Janeiro Marriott hotel, under
threat of criminal prosecution. And a Brazilian judge Monday ruled
that they can remain held there indefinitely.
Authorities in Brazil confiscated the men's passports following
a September 29 midair collision involving the Embraer Legacy 600
the two pilots were flying. The collision is thought to have caused
a Gol Airlines 737 to crash in the Amazon, killing 154 passengers
The Brazilian government says it will prosecute should an
investigation show the pair caused the accident. That investigation
is bogged down amid political wrangling between Brazilian police
and its defense ministry.
Brazilian police suggest the defense ministry -- responsible for
the nation’s air traffic control duties -- is withholding
evidence that might show air traffic controllers
were responsible for the accident.
Meanwhile, a judge denied a request by lawyers for Lepore and
Paladino to have their passports returned to them.
"The decision is wrong," one of the lawyers, Theo Dias, wrote in
an e-mail obtained by the Associated Press. "Of all those involved
in the accident they are the only ones being denied the right to
come and go."
Lepore’s and Paladino’s employer, ExcelAire, says it
disagrees with the court... but respects the decision.
"While we respect the court and its decision, we obviously
disagree with the ruling, and we intend to pursue additional legal
avenues to obtain the release to which we believe we are entitled,"
ExcelAire attorney Robert Torricella said.
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