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A man tried for the death of Emiliano Sala limits his involvement to a ‘paperwork issue’

The defense of the man on trial for organizing the flight in which Argentine soccer player Emiliano Sala died in 2019 assured this Tuesday (26) that his involvement in the case was limited to “a simple matter of paperwork”, rejecting any recklessness.

David Henderson, 67, is being tried by a court in Cardiff, Wales, for possible recklessness or negligence likely to have endangered the aircraft on which the 28-year-old was traveling from France to join the roster of Cardiff City club, which had just signed him.

In his closing arguments, attorney Stephen Spence denied that his client had acted “recklessly”, stating that the regulation violations alleged against him were “purely a matter of paperwork”, and that this would not have actually led to compromise flight safety.

Initially, Henderson was supposed to have flown the aircraft, which was involved in a fatal crash in the English Channel on January 21, 2019. However, he was busy and, in his place, was appointed David Ibbotson, the pilot who also died in the accident.

Ibbotson, on the other hand, did not have a commercial pilot license, his qualification for the type of aircraft used on the flight had expired, and he did not have the competence to fly overnight.

Spence pointed out that Ibbotson, an experienced pilot with more than 3,500 flight hours, was “legally responsible for the safety” of the trip.

The lawyer also pointed out that the only difference between a commercial and a private license refers to the possibility of charging passengers and that it has nothing to do with the pilot’s abilities.

The air carrier certificate, which is “no more than a piece of magical paper that allows you to charge people,” according to Spence, “has not much to do with danger or the absence of danger.”

“If you are rich, you can transport your family, friends and colleagues without a certificate on your jet, provided they do not pay” for the flight, he added.

In their definitive report, published in March 2020, British air accident investigators estimated that the pilot had lost control of the aircraft during a maneuver performed at very high speed, “probably” designed to avoid bad weather.

The body of Emiliano Sala, whose disappearance moved the world of football, was found more than two weeks after the accident. His remains were repatriated in February 2019 to Argentina.

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