Page last updated at 17:54 GMT, Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Five charged for Helios jet crash

The wreckage of the Helios flight 14/08/2005
The plane crashed after the pilots were knocked unconscious

Five people have been charged with manslaughter over the 2005 plane crash that became Cyprus's worst airline disaster, a Cypriot prosecutor says.

The Cyprus-based Helios Airways jet crashed in Greece in August 2005, killing all 121 people on board.

Prosecutors would not identify those charged, but the five are due to attend a hearing early in 2009.

A Greek inquiry has concluded that a series of human errors caused the deadly crash near the capital, Athens.

In documents submitted to a court in Nicosia, Cypriot prosecutors listed charges of manslaughter and of causing death through negligence.

"The charges concern two of the three most serious offences under the Cyprus penal code," said Akis Papasavvas, Cyprus's deputy attorney general, adding that an arraignment hearing would take place on 26 February.

Manslaughter carries a maximum life sentence while the lesser charge carries a maximum four-year sentence.

Human error

The Helios Boeing 737-300 from Larnaca to Prague flew on autopilot for nearly two hours before running out of fuel and slamming into a hillside.

Bereaved relatives wait at Larnaca Airport, Cyprus, to fly to Greece 2005
At least 17 children were believed to be among the dead

Greek investigators concluded in 2006 that a cabin pressure failure knocked out the pilots soon after takeoff.

Relatives of the dead are also taking separate civil action, claiming damages from the Cypriot civil aviation authority as well as US aircraft maker Boeing.

Helios Airways - which was renamed Ajet Airways - closed down in late 2006.

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