Ger­man­wings co-pi­lot probed sui­cide meth­ods: pros­e­cu­tors


The co-pi­lot of Ger­man­wings Flight 9525 ap­pears to have re­searched sui­cide meth­ods and cock­pit door se­cu­rity in the days be­fore he flew the plane into the French Alps, killing 150 peo­ple, Ger­man pros­e­cu­tors said Thurs­day.

Duesseldorf pros­e­cu­tors said in­ves­ti­ga­tors found a tablet com­puter at co-pi­lot An­dreas Lu­b­itz’s apart­ment in Duesseldorf and were able to re­con­struct his com­puter searches from March 16 to March 23.

Based on in­for­ma­tion from the cock­pit voice recorder, In­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve the 27-year-old Lu­b­itz locked his cap­tain out of the A320’s cock­pit on March 24 and de­lib­er­ately crashed the plane, killing ev­ery­one on board.

Pros­e­cu­tors’ spokesman Ralf Her­ren­brueck said in a state­ment that Lu­b­itz’s search terms in­cluded med­i­cal treat­ment and sui­cide meth­ods. On at least one day, the co-pi­lot looked at search terms in­volv­ing cock­pit doors and their se­cu­rity meth­ods. “(He) con­cerned him­self on one hand with med­i­cal treat­ment meth­ods, on the other hand with types and ways of go- ing about a sui­cide,” Her­ren­brueck said. “In ad­di­tion, on at least one day (Lu­b­itz) con­cerned him­self with search terms about cock­pit doors and their se­cu­rity pre­cau­tions.”

Ger­man pros­e­cu­tors said per­sonal cor­re­spon­dence and search terms on the tablet, whose browser mem­ory had not been erased, “sup­port the con­clu­sion that the ma­chine was used by the co-pi­lot in the rel­e­vant pe­riod.

French pros­e­cu­tors, mean­while, said the sec­ond black box from the Ger­man­wings jet crash had been found — the data recorder that con­tains read­ings for nearly ev­ery in­stru­ment on the plane.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors were also ex­am­in­ing cell­phones found in the de­bris of the jet crash for clues about what hap­pened. A French re­porter who says he saw such cell­phone video de­scribed the ex­cru­ci­at­ing sound of “scream­ing and scream­ing” as the plane flew full-speed into a moun­tain.

Ger­man­wings De­nies De­pres­sion Knowl­edge

No video or au­dio from the cell­phones of the 150 peo­ple aboard the plane who were killed in the March 24 crash has been re­leased pub­licly. On Thurs­day, Lt. Col. Jean-Marc Meni­chini told The AP that search teams have found cell­phones, but they haven’t been thor­oughly ex­am­ined yet. He would not elab­o­rate.

Ques­tions persist about jour­nal­ist Fred­eric Hel­bert’s re­ports in the French mag­a­zine Paris-Match and in the Ger­man tabloid Bild this week about the video that he says he saw. Hel­bert vig­or­ously de­fended his re­ports in an in­ter­view Thurs­day with The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Hel­bert said he viewed the video thanks to an in­ter­me­di­ary close to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but does not have a copy him­self. The pub­li­ca­tions chose not to re­lease the video, he said, “be­cause it had no value re­gard­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion but it could have been some­thing ter­ri­ble for fam­i­lies.”

The video was shot from the back of the plane, he said, so “You can­not see their faces, but you can hear them scream­ing and scream­ing.”

“No one is mov­ing or get­ting up,” he told the AP in Paris. “What was aw­ful, what is im­printed in my mem­ory, is the sound.”

“Peo­ple un­der­stand some­thing ter­ri­ble is go­ing to hap­pen,” he said.

Ger­man­wings, mean­while, said Thurs­day was un­aware that Lu­b­itz had suf­fered from de­pres­sion dur­ing his pi­lot train­ing. Ger­man air­line Lufthansa con­firmed Tues­day that it knew six years ago that Lu­b­itz had suf­fered from an episode of “se­vere de­pres­sion” be­fore he fin­ished his flight train­ing.

“We didn’t know this,” said Vanessa Tor­res, a spokes­woman for Lufthansa sub­sidiary Ger­man­wings, which hired Lu­b­itz in Septem­ber 2013. She couldn’t ex­plain why Ger­man­wings wasn’t aware of the de­pres­sion when its par­ent com­pany Lufthansa was.

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