Germanwings prosecutors could bring manslaughter charges as criminal investigation opens

The investigation will ask whether any mistakes were made in assessing Andreas Lubitz's mental health

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French prosecutors have opened a criminal inquiry into the Germanwings plane crash, in order to investigate whether any mistakes were made in assessing the mental health of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz.

According to the BBC, Marseille Prosecutor Brice Robin said that manslaughter charges could potentially be brought, if there was evidence that Lubitz's mental health problems were not properly addressed or brought to the attention of the airline.

Robin said that some doctors felt that Lubitz was unfit to fly, but due to patient confidentiality laws, they did not tell his employers. The investigation will look into whether the gap between what Lubitz's doctors knew and what the airline knew points to manslaughter charges.

However, at this stage, it is unclear against whom manslaughter charges could be brought, or if they would even be brought at all.

Police Colonel Francois Daoust (left) and prosecutor Brice Robin during the press conference where they announced the beginning of the criminal investigation.

Robin told a press conference in Paris that a panel of three judges would lead the investigation.

Prosecutors have found evidence that Lubitz suffered from severe depression, and discovered that he had researched suicide methods before the horrific crash in the French Alps, which killed all 150 people on board.


More recently, investigators found data on Lubitz's computer that showed he had searched for ways to buy potassium cyanide, Valium, and other potentially lethal drugs.

He had also researched living wills as late as the day before the crash, which would have allowed him to leave instructions for medical treatment that extends life - possibly out of fear that his suicide attempt would fail.

Yesterday, Phillip Bramley, father of 28-year-old Paul Bramley, one of the Britons killed in the crash, said that he was "shocked" to learn that despite Lubitz being seen by 41 doctors on previous occasions, his mental health problems had not been dealt with.

He said: "Our only hope is that something can be done to stop anyone else from having to face what we and the other families have been through. Everything possible must be done to ensure than anyone flying a plane is fit to do so."

Additional reporting by Reuters/PA