Sunday 17 December 2017

Co-pilot Lubitz hid illness from employers and had a torn sick note for the day of the disaster

German state prosecutors have said they had found evidence that Andreas Lubitz (27), the Germanwings co-pilot who is suspected of deliberately crashing a passenger plane in the French Alps, had hidden an unspecified medical condition from his employers.

"Documents with medical contents were confiscated that point towards an existing illness and corresponding treatment by doctors," said the prosecutors' office in Duesseldorf, where the pilot lived and where the flight from Barcelona was heading.


"The fact there are sick notes saying he was unable to work, among other things, that were found torn up, which were recent and even from the day of the crime, support the assumption based on the preliminary examination that the deceased hid his illness from his employer and his professional colleagues," they said.

The prosecutors said in a statement that the documents were found in searches of Lubitz's homes in Duesseldorf and in the town of Montabaur.

Lubitz received psychiatric treatment for a "serious depressive episode" six years ago, according to German tabloid Bild.

Prosecutors in France, after listening to the cockpit voice recorders, offered no motive for why Andreas Lubitz, would take the controls of the Airbus A320, lock the captain out of the cockpit and deliberately set it veering down from cruising altitude at 3,000 feet per minute.

Citing internal documents and Lufthansa sources, Bild said Lubitz spent a total of one-and-a-half years in psychiatric treatment and that the relevant documents would be passed to French investigators once they had been examined by German authorities.

Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr told a news conference that Lubitz had taken a break during his training six years ago, but did not explain why and said he had passed all tests to be fit to fly.

"Six years ago there was a lengthy interruption in his training. After he was cleared again, he resumed training. He passed all the subsequent tests and checks with flying colours. His flying abilities were flawless," Spohr said.


A Lufthansa spokeswoman said yesterday the airline would not comment on the state of health of the pilot.

Meanwhile, Lufthansa has offered to pay up to €50,000 in immediate financial assistance per passenger on the crashed plane.

Germanwings says it is setting up a family assistance centre in Marseille for relatives of the 150 people killed when one of its planes crashed in the French Alps.

Germanwings spokesman Thomas Winkelmann said in a statement that "in these dark hours our full attention belongs to the emotional support of the relatives and friends of the victims of Flight 9525."

The airline, a subsidiary of German carrier Lufthansa, says some grieving relatives took part in a religious service near the crash site.


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