AUGUST 14 this year marks the tenth anniversary since the fatal air crash of the Helios Airways 737 Boeing crash, which killed all 121 people – passengers and crew – on board, many of whom were Greek Cypriots going on holiday.
Relatives and friends of those killed are attending a memorial service at a chapel built in memory of the victims of the air disaster in Mosfiloti village, in Larnaca District, on the morning of August 14, head of the Committee of Relatives of the victims Nicolas Yiasoumi told CNA on Friday.
On Saturday at 8.30pm an annual event in memory of the victims will take place in all cities on the island. In Nicosia, candles will be lit at Phaneromeni Church within the walled town, in Limassol at Ayia Zoni church, in Larnaca at Europe Square, and in Paralimni, where many victims came from, at Ayios Georgios square.
The Boeing took off from Larnaca International Airport, on its way to Prague via Athens. Three hours later it crashed on the mountain of Grammatikos, north of Athens, killing all 121 passengers and crew.
On February 2, 2013, a Court of Appeals in Athens convicted three of the four defendants in the air disaster and sentenced them to 122 years imprisonment each. Helios Director Demetris Pantazis, Flight Operations Director Andreas Kikkides and Chief Pilot Ianko Stoimenov were found guilty of manslaughter with conscious negligence, a misdemeanour.
Chief engineer Alan Irwin, the fourth defendant, who had checked the aircraft before the doomed flight, was found not guilty.
The Athens court found the three executives guilty of allowing the Boeing 737-300 to take off with an unfit replacement crew. The engineer was found guilty of failing to reset a pressure valve, causing both crew and passengers to pass out from lack of oxygen. The plane flew for hours on automatic pilot before running out of fuel and crashing into the hillside near Athens. The three executives were given the option to buy out their ten-year sentence which they did, paying €73,000 each.
In Cyprus, the case, which was brought before the Nicosia Assize Court, was suspended following the Athens ruling. All charges were dismissed and the defendants acquitted.