Latin America & Caribbean

Colombia plane crash: Second Bolivian suspect charged

Gustavo Vargas Villegas of the DGAC is arrested by police officers, following last month's crash of charter airline LaMia that killed players from the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense, in La Paz, Bolivia, December 8, 2016 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Gustavo Vargas Villegas worked for the Bolivian aviation authority

The Bolivian authorities have detained a second suspect over the air crash that killed most of Brazil's Chapacoense football team last month.

Prosecutors said Gustavo Vargas Villegas, a former aviation authority official, is being held on charges of misusing his influence by authorizing a licence for the doomed plane.

His father, who is also in detention, was one of the owners of the charter airline that operated the plane.

Both have denied any wrongdoing.

The plane which killed 71 people apparently left Bolivia with less than the regulation amount of fuel in its tanks and crashed when it ran out.

Mr Vargas Villegas said, "I am innocent. I did not authorise the operating licences."

What we know

A team torn apart

Edwin Blanco, a district attorney involved in Mr Vargas Villega's case, told reporters: "The prosecution has collected statements and evidence showing the participation of the accused in the crimes of misusing influence, conduct incompatible with public office and a breach of duties."

The Bolivian authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Celia Castedo, who also worked for the country's civil aviation authorities.

She had seen the plane's flight plan before it took off from Santa Cruz's airport in southern Bolivia and had warned that it barely had enough fuel to reach its destination in Colombia.

She has said she was pressured by her bosses into changing a flight report she made at the time and has fled the country, saying she fears she would not get a fair hearing by the judicial authorities.

Ms Castedo is in Brazil where she is seeking asylum.

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