Comoros: French Court Orders Yemenia Airlines to Pay Damages for 2009 Crash

The airline must pay the sole survivor of the crash and the families of other victims hundreds of thousands of euros. Poor pilot training was among the causes for the crash, an investigation found.

A French court on Wednesday ordered a Yemeni airline to pay a cash settlement to the sole survivor of a 2009 plane crash, as well as to the families of the other victims. Yemenia, which is the flagship carrier of Yemen, had been found guilty of “manslaughter and unintentional injuries” in June.

Survivor Bahia Bakari said she was relieved by the court’s decision but that it would not erase the trauma and grief she has suffered.

She told the Associated Press that “it’s something that has impacted me, that will impact me all my life.”

Many victims families had bemoaned over the years the slow course of justice in the case.

The flight initially took off from Paris before stopping to pick up more passengers in the French port city of Marseille. It then made a stopover in Sanaa, Yemen, where 142 passengers and 11 crew members boarded another plane to continue to the capital of Comoros, an island nation off Africa’s east coast.

The Airbus A310 crashed about 15 kilometers (9 miles) off the Comorian coast in the early hours of June 30, 2009 while attempting to land in at night strong wind, at an airport with malfunctioning lighting.

All aboard were killed except for Bakari, who survived by clinging to floating debris from the plane for 11 hours before being rescued. She suffered a broken collarbone, a broken hip, burns and other injuries.

Now 25, Bakari gave a powerful testimony in a packed Paris courtroom in May, earning praise for her bravery from judges and lawyers.

Probe finds human error to blame

An investigation into the crash found that although there Airbus jet was older, the incident was largely the cause of poor pilot training as well as pressure to continue the journey in bad weather into an airport with little lighting in the middle of the night.

Witnesses in the trial accused Yemenia of putting profit over the safety of its passengers.

Wednesday’s ruling ordered Yemenia to pay €225,000 to Bakari and to the families of 65 French victims. The airline has vowed to appeal.

Yemenia has been ordered to pay restitution before, in response to different lawsuits surrounding the 2009 crash, but victims have said it has been a slow process to get their remuneration.

Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war since 2014, causing further financial troubles for Yemenia.

es/jcg (AFP, AP)


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