16 July 2018

Prosecutors detain LaMia airline boss

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Bolivian police have detained the head of the airline whose plane crashed in Colombia, killing 71 people including many players and staff from a top Brazilian football team.

The focus of investigations appears to be whether the disaster was a result of negligence, with the short-range LaMia aircraft attempting a more than four-hour flight from Santa Cruz to Medellin, for which it barely had enough fuel.

Authorities are also looking into the circumstances through which the LaMia airline was granted permission to fly earlier this year.

Gustavo Vargas, the airline’s chief executive who was picked up by police in Santa Cruz along with a mechanic and a secretary who worked with him, is a retired Bolivian air force general and his son was, at the time, head of the office responsible for licensing aircraft in Bolivia's civil aviation agency.

Prosecutors have suspended several aviation officials, including Vargas’s son, and raided the offices of both the airline and the agency that overseas air traffic in Bolivia.

The three LaMia employees would be questioned for eight hours, officials said, before a decision would be made on whether to formally arrest them.

Prosecutors from Brazil, Bolivia and Colombia are expected to meet in Santa Cruz to combine efforts in determining the causes of the crash. They also are studying how the airline, which despite a questionable history amassed an impressive list of clients from among South America's top football clubs, was allowed to operate.

2016.12.07 / 13:59
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