RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- A federal judge indicted two U.S. pilots and four Brazilian air traffic controllers on manslaughter-related charges Friday in Brazil's worst air disaster, court officials said.
Judge Murilo Mendes accepted the charges filed by a prosecutor last week in a federal court in Sinop, a small city near the Amazon jungle site where a Boeing jetliner last year plunged into the rain forest after a collision with an executive jet. All 154 people aboard the jetliner died, while the executive jet landed safely.
Pilots Joseph Lepore, 42, of Bay Shore, N.Y., and Jan Paladino, 34, of Westhampton Beach, N.Y., were charged with exposing an aircraft to danger resulting in death. Paz said the charge is similar to involuntary manslaughter and is punishable by one to three years in prison.
A lawyer for the pilots said the charges were unfounded.
"The pilots' conduct was completely competent throughout the flight and cannot be fairly characterized as criminal," Joel R. Weiss said.
He added: "The fact is that air traffic control placed and approved these two aircraft on a collision course, on the same airway, and altitude traveling toward each other."
News stories provided by third parties are not edited by "Site Publication" staff. For suggestions and comments, please click the Contact link at the bottom of this page.