Cyprus Mail

Helios relatives to mark 13th anniversary of crash

The wreckage of the Helios aircraft

Memorial events will mark the crash of the Helios flight 13 years ago north of Athens both in Cyprus and in Greece over the next few days.

Relatives of the 121 people who died in the crash on August 14, 2005, will conduct a modest ceremony in Larnaca on August 11 at 8pm. During the memorial, on Europa square, candles will be lit.

On Wednesday, August 14, a church service will be held at the chapel which was built in Grammatiko, Attica, where the aircraft went down.

Around 60 people, relatives of the victims, are expected to travel to Greece to attend this event and climb the nearby mountain where the tail of the aircraft was found.

On the morning of the tragedy, the Helios Airways Flight 522 was scheduled to fly from Larnaca to Prague via Athens. It crashed at 12.03pm near the village of Grammatiko, around 30 kilometres from Athens international airport.

There were 115 passengers and six crew members onboard the plane. The majority on board were Cypriot nationals.

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.

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. The three executives were given the option to buy out their ten-year sentence which they did, paying €73,000 each.

Chief engineer Alan Irwin, the fourth defendant, who had checked the aircraft before the doomed flight, was found not guilty.

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.

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