Garuda Indonesia Flight 200's pilot's trial to begin this week

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The trial of Captain Marwoto Komar is set to begin this week. The first pilot to be prosecuted over an aircraft accident in Indonesia, he is being charged over the March 7, 2007 crash of Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 at Yogyakarta International Airport, a disaster which killed 21 people.

The final report by the National Transport Safety Commission found that Komar had attempted to land the aircraft, a Boeing 737, at an unsafely high speed and steep angle, resulting in the plane overshooting the runway and bursting into flames. It further said that he ignored fifteen activations of the Ground Proximity Warning System telling him he was approaching too fast, as well as a request by the co-pilot to abort the landing.

According to Muhammad Assegaf, a member of Captain Komar's defense team, the trial begins on Thursday in Yogyakarta's Slemen District Court. When asked about the nature of the charges, deputy attorney general for general offenses Abdul Hakim Ritonga told reporters "It is complicated...but both aviation and criminal codes can be used," and that the charges would be of fatal negligence.

Most of those killed in the disaster were Indonesians, but five Australians were also killed. They were part of a group sent ahead of Australia's then foreign minister Alexander Downer to accompany him on a visit.

There is much controversy surrounding the prosecution. A group of pilots protested his initial arrest, saying he should appear before an aviation tribunal. Instead, he is set to be tried before five judges.

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