SANTA CRUZ - Bolivia has arrested CEO of LaMia, the airline involved in last week's plane crash outside Medellin, Colombia, that killed 71 people including 19 members of Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team. Authorities also arrested two others from the airline in an investigation that could turn into a manslaughter case.
CEO Gustavo Vargas and two other LaMia employees, a mechanic and a secretary, were arrested and questioned by prosecutors in Santa Cruz for up to eight hours on Tuesday (7/12) after the BAe 146 operated by the small charter company crashed into the Andes when it ran out of fuel.
Authorities are investigating if the crash was a result of negligence and why the aircraft was given permission to fly despite the apparent lack of safety procedures.
"It could easily turn into a manslaughter case," said Bolivian Attorney, General Ramiro Guerrero.
Celia Castedo, a Bolivian air traffic controller, who reportedly questioned the ill-fated flight plan, is also at the center of the investigation.
According to the Bolivian Interior Ministry, Castedo illegally went through migration controls in Bolivia on her way to Brazil to flee the investigations and is reportedly seeking asylum. Yesterday, Bolivia demanded that Brazil deport Castedo back to Bolivia.
"What she has done is very serious. There is no argument to justify an asylum request.," said Bolivia's Interior Minister Carlos Romero.
Colombia's aviation authority said last week that traffic control ordered the aircraft to wait for another flight to make an emergency landing and was not carrying the internationally-required emergency reserve fuel.
Bolivia suspended LaMia's operations on Thursday to ensure a transparent investigation into the crash and a number of the country's aviation authorities have been suspended.
The tragedy has shocked the soccer world and left Brazil in mourning. The small Chapecoense club was on its way to take on Atletico Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final, by far the biggest match in the club's history. Chapecoense has been posthumously awarded the Copa Sudamericana title.