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French appeals court overturns manslaughter case against Continental Airlines over Concorde crash that killed 113


A French appeals court has overturned a manslaughter conviction against Continental Airlines for the July 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde that killed 113 people.

The ruling follows a case in 2010 where a French court convicted Continental Airlines Inc and one of its mechanics for the crash.

The court also imposed around $2.7 million in damages and fines on the carrier.

Investigators had claimed that a titanium strip that had fallen from a Continental airliner, and was left on the runway at Charles de Gaulle airport, had caused the crash.

A mechanic, John Taylor, was given a 15-month suspended prison sentence over the crash.

Continental said the initial court decision was absurd and launched an appeal.

The Air France Concorde burst into flames shortly after take-off in 2000 and the jet slammed into a hotel nearby killing all 109 people aboard and four on the ground.

The majority of the passengers were German tourists heading to New York to join a Caribbean cruise.

The US airline had always argued that Concorde caught fire before it hit the metal strip, and said they were being used as a scapegoat in order to protect France's airline industry.

Megan McCarthy, a spokeswoman for Chicago-based United Continental Holdings, told the BBC the firm supported the court's decision that Continental was not to blame.

"We have long maintained that neither Continental nor its employees were responsible for this tragic event and are satisfied that this verdict was overturned," she said in a written statement.