Transport Union Protests Greek Verdict against Bulgarian Pilot
The Union of Transport Syndicates is organizing Wednesday a protest rally in front of the Greek Embassy in Sofia against the verdict of Bulgarian pilot, Yanko Stoimenov.
Stoimenov is sentenced to 123 years of jail time by a Greek Court. The rally is only the start of a campaign for his freedom.
According to the Syndicates, the verdict is unjust and the pilot is not guilty on any of the charges against him. With the rally, the Union also wishes to voice opposition against the practice to criminalize transport accidents. They want to have a new probe in Stoimenov's case, conducted by aviation experts, not magistrates, for the benefit not only of the defendant, but international aviation safety.
In April 2012, a Greek court declared four former employees of low-cost Cypriot airline Helios Airways, including Bulgarian Stoimenov, guilty for an air crash that killed all 121 people on board.
On August 14, 2005, a Boeing 737-300 flying on a flight from Larnaka to Prague via Athens crashed north of the Greek capital, killing all of the passengers and the members of the crew.
The crash was the worst accident on record for Greece and Cyprus.
The Court of first instance in Athens declared Helios' managing director Demetris Pantazis, flight operations manager Giorgos Kikkides, chief pilot Yanko Stoimenov and chief engineer Alan Irwin guilty of negligent manslaughter.
In December 2011, a Cypriot court ruled that the State prosecutors had not proved their case for manslaughter and acquitted all defendants.
The magistrates in Nicosia did not accept the claims that the crew had been incompetent and that the company had failed to ensure the safety and security of the passengers.
At that point, the relatives of the victims who had gathered in front of court accepted the court's pronouncement chanting "Shame!"
The Greek prosecutor then lodged an appeal, which triggered protests from the families of the defendants.
According to one of the lawyers of a defendant on the case, the decision of the Athens court presents a serious problem because it is nonstandard for the same people to be tried twice on the same charges.
In December, the Cyprus Supreme Court ruled to have a new trial. The Bulgarian national pleaded not-guilty.
The press center of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry informed then that they have been offering full assistance since the very start of the process and will continue to do so in providing opinions and explanations of international legal documents.
The Foreign Ministry further reported they were in constant touch with Stoimenov and his defense council.