Page last updated at 07:57 GMT, Monday, 6 April 2009 08:57 UK

Indonesian crash pilot sentenced

Capt Marwoto Komar in court (February 2009)
Marwoto Komar said he planned to appeal against the ruling

The pilot of an Indonesian plane that crashed at an airport on Java island, killing 21 people, has been jailed for two years for criminal negligence.

An inquiry found that Capt Marwoto Komar had approached the runway too fast and landed at too steep an angle.

The Boeing 737 skidded off the runway and burst into flames on 7 March 2007.

This is the first time a pilot has faced criminal charges in Indonesia, and the trial has attracted a lot of media attention.

Five Australians were among the dead - many were diplomats, journalists and officials accompanying Australia's then-foreign minister Alexander Downer.

The minister was travelling to Yogyakarta on a separate plane.

'No remorse'

"The defendant, Marwoto Komar, is legally and convincingly guilty of criminal negligence resulting in the jet's crash and the deaths of other people," chief judge Sri Andini ruled.

The wreckage of a Garuda airliner (07/03/07)
Capt Marwoto Komar approached the runway at almost double normal speed

He said the heavy sentence was handed down because of the number of fatalities and the fact that the pilot "never expressed remorse during the trial".

Marwoto Komar said he planned to appeal against the ruling. He had maintained that faulty wing flaps were to blame for the plane's excessive speed.

However, a report by an Indonesian safety committee found that Komar ignored 15 automatic warnings from inside the cockpit, and also pleas from his co-pilot to abort the landing and take the approach again.

Indonesia relies on air travel to connect its many islands, but old planes and inadequate investment mean the country has one of the worst aviation safety records in the world.

The European Union has banned Indonesian airlines from its airspace since 2007 because of safety concerns.

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