Germanwings Co-Pilot Andreas Lubitz Was Likely Unfit To Fly — But His Doctors Couldn't Say Anything
The criminal investigation into the March 24 Germanwings crash that killed 150 people has determined that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was entirely responsible for the tragedy. The months-long inquiry uncovered that Lubitz had visited seven doctors within the month before he flew the commercial plane into the French Alps, including several appointments with a psychiatrist. Marseille Prosecutor Brice Robin told reporters Thursday that some doctors felt Lubitz was unfit to fly, but couldn't inform Germanwings because of German patient confidentiality laws.
According to Robin, some of the doctors Lubitz visited believed he was psychologically unstable and thought he shouldn't fly. "He consulted private doctors, and these doctors were clearly aware of his health problems, which were both psychological and psychiatric," Robin said Thursday. Robin also revealed that Lubitz allegedly told a doctor before the crash that he thought he was losing his vision, but it's not yet clear whether Germanwings and its parent company, Lufthansa, were aware of this. Prosecutors reportedly found a torn up note in Lubitz's apartment excusing him from work the day of the crash. Lubitz's doctors didn't disclose any of his problems to his employer because doctors can face jail time in Germany for revealing confidential patient information unless they have evidence that the patient plans to commit a crime or hurt themselves.
Now that Lubitz has officially been found responsible for the fatal crash, French prosecutors are looking into the airline's potential liability, since it's impossible to charge the dead co-pilot for his crimes. The rest of the investigation will focus on possible negligence on the part of Germanwings and Lufthansa, according to Robin, which could lead to involuntary homicide charges. Robin said at the news conference: "This could involve Lufthansa or Germanwings, but at the moment we don't have the evidence to bring charges against those companies."
Robins announced that three magistrates were assigned to the crash investigation and would examine whether or not the airline knew that Lubitz thought he was losing his sight. However, only the individual is allowed to request that their health records be given to their employer, so it isn't likely that Germanwings had his records. At the news conference, Robin speculated, "I believe deep down he knew that if his employers knew about his eyesight loss ... then he would lose his license and, since [flying] was his main objective in life, the idea was unbearable to him."
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