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SQ 006 pilots extend sympathies to victims

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SQ 006 pilots extend sympathies to victims

Old 9th Jun 2002, 05:06
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SQ 006 pilots extend sympathies to victims

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In the Singapore Sunday Times: 9 June 2002


SQ 006 pilots extend sympathies to victims

Prominent newspaper adverts stop short of apology, but thought to be part of deal which could see them avoid jail sentences
By Lawrence Chung

THE PILOTS of SQ 006 have made a second trip to Taiwan and sources say the investigations into the crash 19 months ago could end this week, possibly without the pilots having to serve jail sentences.

Officially, prosecutors only said they would decide this week if charges would be filed against the cockpit crew for the crash as they attempted to take off from a closed runway.

The pilots have not made any statements since the crash, but an unexpected development on Friday fuelled speculation a deal had been sealed with the prosecutors.

The pilots took out half-page advertisements on the front pages of three major Taiwanese papers, the United Daily, China Times and Liberty Times, offering their 'heartfelt sympathies' to the victims' families.

In the statements in both Chinese and English, entitled 'Our Prayers' Captain Foong Chee Kong and First Officer Latiff Cyrano said: 'We understand that nothing will take away the pain of those who have lost their loved ones, those injured or those who are still under hospitalisation.'

'We take this opportunity to tender to the passengers and their families and friends our heartfelt sympathies. We also pray for their speedy recovery and healing.'

The carefully worded statement stopped short of an apology.
The third pilot - First Officer Ng Kheng Leng - was not required to be part of the statement as he was not at the controls during the crash.

On the statement's timing, a Singapore Airlines spokesman in Singapore said:
'The pilots have come to an arrangement with the prosecution office. This advertisement is part of that arrangement.'

The advertisements appeared about two weeks after the pilots second trip to Taiwan, when they slipped in and out quietly without media coverage, unlike their first trip there on May 8.
Ms Chiang Yuan-chen, the prosecutor, said: 'There were some new things we wanted to clarify. It was an informal questioning session and did not last long.'

Investigations into possible professional negligence on the part of the pilots started after Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council blamed the crash on the pilots and bad weather, in its report on April 26.
Singapore's Ministry of Transport disputed the conclusions, citing a
combination of factors, including deficiencies at Taiwan's international airport, as reasons why the ill-fated 747-400 crashed on Oct 31, 2000, killing 83 people and injuring another 44.

Aside from the legal merits of the case, sources in Taipei say the
authorities would also have to consider public sentiment and international opinion.
While some of the families of the victims may want to see the pilots jailed, the airlines, pilots' associations and the international aviation community as a whole will strongly oppose such a move.

'The best scenario is for the prosecutors to charge them, but recommend the court pardon the trio in line with the international practice of not jailing pilots,' said one legal expert.

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