Federal Judge Says No and American Pilots Cannot Leave Brazil

    American pilots Joseph Lepore and Jan Paul Paladino cannot leave Brazil as they had asked in a petition to the Brazilian federal justice.

    A federal judge from Sinop, a little city in the north of Cuiabá, capital of Mato Grosso state, dismissed the pilots request to get their passports back so that they can return to the United States.

    Lepore and Paladino were detained in Rio de Janeiro soon after the executive jet Legacy they were piloting collided on September 29 with a Boeing 737 over the Brazilian Amazon jungle killing all 154 people aboard the Gol’s aircraft.

    Lawyer Theo Dias, who is representing the pilots, announced that he will appeal the verdict and released a note criticizing the judge’s decision:

    "Among all the professionals involved in the accident, only the pilots suffer curtailment in their right of coming and going, which constitutes discriminatory treatment that will be questioned by means of a habeas corpus."

    Dias had filed his petition last week initially with Brazil’s Superior Justice Tribunal, but that higher court sent the request to the lower tribunal in Mato Grosso, the state where the accident occurred. 

    The Brazilian Federal police of Rio de Janeiro confiscated the Americans’ passport on October 3 when the pilots went to Rio for medical exams.

    At that time, the authorities alleged that that would be the only way to guarantee they would be able to hear the pilots in the course of the accident’s investigation.

    Brazilian Defense minister, Waldir Pires, promises that the preliminary conclusion of the probe will be presented this week.

    Said the minister, "It is not going to be the final report, but I guarantee that it is going to be something very close to that. It is an important instrument not only to tell who are the culprits, but especially to teach us about what happened so that we can prevent new tragedies like this one from occurring."

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