On March 10, 2019, the Boeing 737 MAX of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crashes just six minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa airport, the Ethiopian capital.
On board, 189 people, including 9 French.
A few hours after this tragedy which takes place nearly 6000 km from Paris, the French justice opens a judicial investigation for "manslaughter".
“When a French national dies abroad, the French justice has the competence to investigate, explains a lawyer close to the file.
This is why there was no open investigation into the other crash of a Boeing 737 MAX, on October 29, 2018, in Indonesia.
There was no French.
Often complicated investigations.
"Local authorities must play the game," continues the lawyer.
To access the elements of the investigation, it is necessary to regularly go through the diplomatic channel.
It's slow and rarely succeeds.
Justice hopes to obtain data from black boxes
The investigations were entrusted to three investigating judges from the Collective Accidents Pole of the Paris prosecutor's office.
"We are fully determined to move forward in this matter," assures the head of this pole, the deputy prosecutor Loïs Raschel.
A request for assistance was sent to the Ethiopian authorities in particular to obtain a copy of the data contained in the black boxes.
Because if the Bureau of Investigations and Analyzes (BEA) has been entrusted by the Ethiopian authorities with extracting the data contained in the black boxes, there is no question of delivering the elements to French justice.
"Even if we have a copy, it is the Ethiopian authorities who are leading the investigation," recalls the BEA.
"We are optimistic that this request will succeed in the short term", wants to believe Loïs Raschel.
And this, even if no judicial convention exists with Ethiopia.
Unlike America, where a convention exists.
“Even if the press and the American Congress point the responsibility of Boeing, we have no information on this investigation, regrets this member of a victim's family.
Our fear is that Boeing, which is a powerful company in the USA, will negotiate an agreement with the American courts and that no one will be condemned ”.
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The anger of the families of French victims
What could the French investigation lead to?
Earlier this month, the collective accidents section of the Paris prosecutor's office obtained a three-year prison sentence and a fine of 45,000 euros from the boss of the Thai airline One-Two-Go.
The businessman was being prosecuted for "manslaughter".
One of its planes, a McDonnell Douglas MD-82, crashed on the island of Phuket in 2007. Result, 90 passengers died including 9 French.
Absent from his trial, the Thai businessman has since been the subject of an international arrest warrant.