French prosecutor: Germanwings copilot 'feared going blind'

Germanwings copilot consulted 7 doctors in month before March crash, feared losing eyesight, says prosecutor

The copilot who crashed a Germanwings jet into the Alps feared that he was losing his eyesight, and some of the many doctors he consulted believed he was unfit to fly, a French prosecutor said Thursday.

The doctors didn't report their concerns to Andreas Lubitz's employers, however, because of German patient privacy laws, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin told reporters in Paris.

Robin met with families of victims Thursday and updated reporters on the status of the investigation into the March 24 crash, which killed all 150 people aboard. Families are just starting to receive remains of their loved ones and will start holding burials in the coming days and weeks.

Robin said the investigation so far “has enabled us to confirm without a shadow of a doubt … Mr. Andreas Lubitz deliberately destroyed the plane and deliberately killed 150 people, including himself.”

Investigators say he locked the pilot out of the cockpit and flew the plane into a French mountainside, after having researched suicide methods and cockpit door rules and practiced an unusual descent.

Robin said Lubitz had also investigated vision problems and “feared going blind” — a career-ending malady for a pilot.

Lubitz had seen seven doctors within the month before the March 24 crash, including three appointments with a psychiatrist, Robin said. Some of the doctors felt Lubitz was psychologically unstable, and some felt he was unfit to fly, but “unfortunately that information was not reported because of medical secrecy requirements,” the prosecutor said.

In Germany, doctors risk prison if they disclose information about their patients to anyone unless there is evidence they intend to commit a serious crime or harm themselves.

The question for investigators now is who could be held responsible. The prosecutor upgraded the investigation from a preliminary probe to a full-fledged manslaughter inquiry, which hands the case to investigating magistrates who can file eventual charges against people or entities.

German lawyer Peter Kortas, whose firm represents relatives of 34 victims, said negotiations with Germanwings about compensation began several days ago. Families were also seeking answers about delays in the return of victims' remains.

Nearly half of the victims were German, 47 were Spanish and there were 17 nationalities among the remainder.


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