Father of Germanwings pilot accused of killing 150 questions inquiry verdict

Kate Connolly
Victims’ relatives and friends commemorate the second anniversary of the Germanwings crash at Vernet memorial, in the French Alps. Photograph: Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images

The father of a co-pilot who was at the controls of a plane that crashed into the French Alps two years ago has questioned the veracity of the crash investigation, which ruled his son deliberately downed the A320 jet to kill himself.

As relatives of the victims attended memorial services in France and Germany to mark the second anniversary of the crash, Günter Lubitz told a press conference that he had hired his own investigator to get to the truth of what happened to the Germanwings flight.

Other families who lost loved ones in the crash expressed anger at the press conference, and German prosecutors dismissed the suggestion that their investigation failed to examine all reasonable leads.

According to French investigators, Andreas Lubitz deliberately locked the captain out of the cockpit and flew the Germanwings A320 jet into a rocky mountainside on 24 March 2015 on a flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf, killing all 150 passengers and crew on board.

Dressed in a dark suit and tie and flanked variously by a smiling picture of his son and a poster of a black ribbon bearing the flight number 4U9525, Günter Lubitz said there was no conclusive proof his son had been responsible for the crash.

Tim van Beveren, an aviation journalist hired by Lubitz to comb through investigators’ files with him, said the investigation had been botched and was full of inconsistencies. Van Beveren said he was unable to present an alternative theory for the crash, but urged authorities to review their investigation and give the co-pilot’s family access to documents previously unavailable to them.

Lubitz, who broke his silence this week in an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit, admitted that he and his family had found it hard to come to terms with the fact that his son had deliberately caused the crash, but would accept that version if he was presented with evidence.

He said he was aware that by holding the press conference on the anniversary he had caused upset to relatives of the victims, but that he had wanted his family’s voice to be heard.

“What I say to you I say with great caution because it could easily be misunderstood. My grief is of a different kind, a particular kind. It differs from the grief of all the other relatives,” he said. “We must live with having not only lost our son but that he was depicted as a depressive mass murderer. We have to live with the fact that whenever terrible assassinations happen in the world, his name is repeatedly mentioned.”

Lubitz told Die Zeit that his son’s grave had been vandalised by someone who set fire to it after a picture of it was published in the tabloid Bild.

Lubitz, who was accompanied by security guards, repeatedly stressed his view that his son had not been depressed at the time of the crash. “What is correct is that he suffered from depression in 2008-09. He overcame it and regained his original strength before completing his pilot’s licence.” He described his son as someone with a “life-affirming” perspective, and confirmed he had suffered from eye problems and had had difficulties sleeping.

Van Beveren said he would be sending all of his information to investigators, but if they failed to respond he would post them online.

Düsseldorf state prosecutor Christoph Kumpa said he did not see any reason to reopen the investigation. “The crash occurred due to the deliberate actions of the co-pilot probably with suicidal intent,” he told German media, ahead of the press conference. “He had suffered for months from insomnia, he was scared of losing his sight and was distraught. There is no adequate evidence of any other cause of the crash and none we’re likely to get.”

Elmar Giemulla, a lawyer for several of the victims’ families said Lubitz’s actions were “irresponsible and painful” for them. “I think he wants to push the theory that clears his son of any responsibility,” he said.

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