PARIS, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Continental Airlines branded “absurd” a guilty verdict against the airline and one of its mechanics over the 2000 Concorde crash and pledged to appeal.
Welder John Taylor was given a 15-month suspended prison sentence and the airline was fined 200,000 euros by a French court on Monday over the crash which killed 113 people.
Prosecutors had targeted the airline over a piece of metal which dropped off a Continental aircraft that took off just before the Air France AIRF.PA Concorde and punctured its tyres, sending debris into fuel tanks and sparking a fatal fire.
Continental maintenance official Stanley Ford was cleared.
“While we agree with the court’s decision that Stanley Ford was innocent of the charges he faced and we share his relief that his decade-long nightmare is over, we strongly disagree with the court’s verdict regarding Continental Airlines and John Taylor and will of course appeal this absurd finding,” UK-based Continental spokesman Nick Britton said in an emailed statement.
“Portraying the metal strip as the cause of the accident, and Continental and one of its employees as the sole guilty parties, shows the determination of the French authorities to shift attention and blame away from Air France, which was government-owned at the time and operated and maintained the aircraft, as well as from the French authorities responsible for the Concorde’s airworthiness and safety.”
Continental is now part of United Continental Holdings UAL.N following an airline merger completed in August.
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