Father of Germanwings co-pilot challenges crash probes

BERLIN (AP) " The father of Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz said Friday his son loved life and wasn't suffering from depression on the day his plane crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board, suggesting the official investigations were faulty.

Guenter Lubitz said he was speaking publicly for the first time to challenge French and German authorities, who have concluded that his son slammed the Airbus A320 into a mountainside in order to kill himself.

"In the six years before the crash we knew our son as someone who loved life," Guenter Lubitz told reporters in Berlin. "Our son wasn't depressed at the time of the crash."

Other families who lost loved ones in the crash on March 24, 2015, have expressed anger at the news conference, on the second anniversary of the disaster. German prosecutors dismissed the suggestion that their investigation of the crash " which focused on possible negligence by third parties " had failed to examine all reasonable leads.

Duesseldorf prosecutor Christoph Kumpa told The Associated Press that Lubitz had suffered from depression during his pilot's training, but that there was no indication this had persisted beyond 2009.

"However, the investigation showed that from the period after the end of December 2014 symptoms were found that indicated that a new psychological illness had arisen at the time, which was diagnosed by specialist doctors in February and March 2015," Kumpa said.

A review of Lubitz' tablet computer showed he had also searched for information on the cockpit door in the week before the crash. Investigators concluded that the co-pilot had locked the captain out of the cockpit before setting the plane to fly at the lowest possible altitude.

"In the view of Duesseldorf prosecutors there can be no reasonable doubt that the co-pilot intentionally and voluntarily caused the crash for suspected suicidal reasons," said Kumpa.

An aviation expert commissioned by Guenter Lubitz told reporters that authorities had failed to pursue several other possibilities in their investigation, including technical errors and hazardous weather conditions.

The expert, Tim van Beveren, accused authorities of "poisoning" the investigation by concluding two days after the crash that Lubitz was responsible.

He alleged several discrepancies in the official reports, including with the flight recorder data, cockpit transcripts and Lubitz's medical notes.

Van Beveren said he was unable to present an alternative theory for the crash, but urged authorities to review the case again and give the co-pilot's family access to documents previously unavailable to them.

A spokesman for the German transport ministry said Friday that the government saw no reason to doubt the results of the investigation that had concluded the 27-year-old intentionally steered the plane into a mountainside.

Relatives of two Americans killed in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 recently filed a lawsuit in the United States claiming negligence on the part of Germanwings and its parent company Lufthansa for not requiring at least two flight crew members in the cockpit at all times.

Many airlines and regulators introduced such a requirement after the crash " a rule already in force in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Prosecutors in Germany shelved their investigation in January after concluding there were no indications that anybody other than the co-pilot could be prosecuted for the crash.

An investigation by French prosecutors into possible third party involvement is still ongoing.

Guenter Lubitz said the family discussed his son's career as a pilot during the period of depression he suffered in 2008-2009. "Of course we talked about whether he would continue his training," he said.

After consulting several doctors, Lubitz "regained his original strength and joy of life" and passed all medical tests required to resume his training, the father said.

Lubitz insisted that he hadn't chosen to hold the news conference on the second anniversary "to hurt the other families," some of whom were gathered near the site of the crash for a memorial ceremony Friday.

"Like all other families, we too are looking for truth," he said.


Follow Frank Jordans on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/wirereporter

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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