Yemenia Airways Faces Maximum Fine in Appeal for 2009 Comoros Crash

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
3 Min Read
Airways

One of Yemen’s national airline’s planes crashed into the sea off the coast of the Comoros, just before landing in Moroni, resulting in 152 fatalities. Only a 12-year-old girl survived the crash. During the appeal trial, which concluded on March 28, 2024, the public prosecutors called for the confirmation of the sentences handed down in the first instance two years ago: a maximum fine of 225,000 euros for involuntary manslaughter and injury.

The appeal trial concluded with the defense’s pleas on Thursday, March 28. After offering condolences to the families of the victims, Yemenia Airways’ lawyers reiterated that judicial expertise had found no technical failures with the aircraft and asserted that the pilots were well-trained. However, the investigation into the black boxes revealed piloting errors.

According to the defense, Moroni Airport and ASECNA, the agency responsible for aviation safety in the Comoros, share responsibility for the tragedy. “The company should not become a scapegoat,” they argued. Yemenia Airways’ lawyers claimed that the disaster resulted from an accumulation of exceptional difficulties during the flight, which were beyond the company’s responsibility. Therefore, they requested acquittal.

“We maintained that the accusation is based on presumptions, hypotheses, with no factual evidence,” explained Maître Grégory Laville de la Plagne, one of the defense attorneys. “The true causes of the accident were not investigated, even though it was clear from the beginning: it was a chain of multiple external factors that led these pilots to make errors, despite being extremely well-trained.”

Conversely, the public prosecutors pointed out the “multiple deficiencies” of Yemenia in training its pilots and maintaining its aircraft and saw no mitigating circumstances for the company. In their closing arguments, they also supported a request from the civil parties by considering that victims of foreign nationality, mostly Comorians, could be taken into account by the French justice system. This could pave the way for compensation for their families if the Court of Appeal rules in their favor.

This ongoing legal battle continues to highlight the complexities and responsibilities involved in aviation accidents, as both sides argue their cases with determination and empathy for the victims and their families.

Soukaina Sghir

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