Volume 36 (2011) / Issue 2
On 6 December 2010, the Criminal Court of Pontoise (France) issued a guilty verdict against Continental Airlines and its employee, John Taylor and exonerated all of the French defendants, signaling the epilogue of the Concorde long running criminal proceedings arising out of the Concorde accident in Paris on 25 July 2000. On the basis of the expert reports issued by a pilot expert who had been working as a pilot of Air France for forty years at the time he was appointed by the Investigating Magistrate, the Court has rejected the principal argument for the defence of Continental Airlines and has determined the taxiing of the Concorde over the wear strip from the Continental Airlines DC 10 to be the sole cause of the accident. Continental's mechanic, John Taylor, was found guilty and sentenced for involuntary homicide and manslaughter because he had violated the rules of manufacture and attachment of the wear strip on the Continental DC10 and the simple negligence of Taylor's supervisor Mr Ford lead to the finding of criminal responsibility of Continental Airlines. By declaring Continental's submission as to the lack of objective impartiality of the pilot expert non admissible and time-barred the French Criminal Court has raised questions as to the role of equity and fairness in the French criminal system. The Court of Appeal of Versailles will review the first instance decision since all of the parties have appealed.
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