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 Indonesia court jails pilot over deadly 2007 crash

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BerichtOnderwerp: Indonesia court jails pilot over deadly 2007 crash   Indonesia court jails pilot over deadly 2007 crash Icon_minitimema 6 apr 2009 - 14:13

Indonesia court jails pilot over deadly 2007 crash
Mon Apr 6, 2009 5:16am EDT

By Olivia Rondonuwu

SLEMAN, Indonesia, April 6 (Reuters) - An Indonesian court sentenced the pilot of a Garuda Indonesia aircraft to two years in jail on Monday for negligence in an air crash in 2007 in which 21 people were killed, the judge said.

Prosecutors had said captain Marwoto Komar, who had 22 years of flying experience, ignored warnings from his co-pilot and onboard alert signals about the plane's speed and trajectory when landing the aircraft ith 140 people on board.

The Boeing 737 bounced and skidded off the runway at Yogyakarta airport before bursting into flames in a rice field.

"The defendant was found legitimately and convincingly guilty of negligence", said Sri Andini, the head of a panel of five judges at the court in Sleman, near Yogyakarta on Java island.

Komar, who was dressed in his pilot's uniform, said he would appeal. He had denied the charges against him, and told reporters previously he had tried to avoid the accident.

The case triggered airline industry protests over the use of a criminal court to punish the pilot.

"They (the judges) don't have enough aviation knowledge to convict in an aviation case," said aviation expert Chappy Hakim.

Prosecutors had sought a four-year jail term for the pilot.

Five Australians -- two policemen, a diplomat, a journalist and an aid official -- were among the casualties.

They were part of a group that had been accompanying former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer, who was not on board the plane, on a visit to Indonesia.

Caroline Mellish, whose journalist brother Morgan died in the crash, said after the verdict that she did not think two years was sufficient "given that he's responsible for a crash that killed 21 people and left lots of other people injured."

Indonesia has suffered a string of airline disasters in recent years, raising concerns about safety and prompting the European Union to ban all Indonesian airlines from its airspace.

Indonesia has been trying to revamp its aviation system and last year passed a new aviation law that requires the setting up of an independent investigation commission to probe accidents.

The number of air casualties has gone down, although accidents in a country that saw a boom in budget air travel in the past decade have still been happening fairly regularly.

In the last few months, a plane made an emergency landing in Batam after its front wheel failed to descend, another had an emergency landing after engine failure and one skidded off the runway in Jakarta. (Editing by Ed Davies and Sanjeev Miglani)

©️ Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
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