Attorney Has Appeal Ready, Should Judge Disagree With Plan
Two American pilots involved in a
mid-air collision over Brazil in September 2006 that claimed the
lives of 154 people will testify in the case in response to a
subpoena issued by a Brazilian judge, but will do so from US
"They are innocent of any crime, but are completely willing and
eager to tell their story," said Joel R. Weiss, the pilots'
American attorney. "We are going to tell our story according to
Pilots Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladino were indicted in June
along with four air traffic controllers on manslaughter-related
charges, as ANN reported. A conviction
could mean up to three years on prison.
Lepore and Paladino stand accused of turning off the transponder
on the Embraer Legacy 600 executive jet they were delivering to the
US. They were struck by a Gol airlines-operated Boeing 737 at
37,000 feet. The Embraer landed safely having suffered a small
amount of tail damage, but the 737 went down killing all 154 people
The pilots deny turning off their transponder. They contend they
were flying where instructed by controllers. Both were detained in
Brazil for more than two months following the accident before being
allowed to return to the US.
"We were compliant with all regulations," Paladino said. "We
were doing exactly what we were supposed to be doing, and we just
experienced, automatically, just a jolt out of nowhere."
The two claim they never saw the 737 and
didn't learn of the collision until hours after they safely landed
the damaged Embraer. The bizjet lost a winglet and suffered damage
to its tail.
Weiss declined to say if that detainment had anything to do with
his clients' refusal to return to the country, according to the
Associated Press. The pilots' defense attorney in Brazil, Theo
Dias, will inform the court of their decision to testify from the
Weiss cites the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in their
decision. They will be able to be interviewed by Brazilian
authorities here or via video conference, offer depositions or
communicate by other electronic means.
Should the Brazilian judge not accept this decision, Weiss is
ready with to appeal.