Monday, November 13, 2006


A federal judge today denied the petition of two American pilots, held in Brazil since the Sept. 29 mid-air collision over the Amazon that killed 154, to be able to leave Brazil while the secret investigations into the crash drag on.

That was predicted here a few days ago, when the absurd charge that the Legacy 600 was doing reckless aerial maneuvers at the time of impact was suddenly revivified in Brazil. The aerial maneuvers charge was revivified just as it was becoming apparent that the pilots were about to be released, after reports that they were flying the private jet at 37,000 feet -- on the same path and altitude as an approaching Brazilian Gol airliner 737 -- under orders from Brazilian air traffic control.

The pilots, Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, remain in seclusion in a Rio hotel. Their passports have been confiscated. Their lawyer in Brazil, Theo Dias, said he will appeal the judge's decision on the ground that of all of the professionals involved in the accident, only the American pilots are being detained. Mr. Dias said that this "discriminatory treatment" will be challenged under the principle of habeas corpus, in that authorities have presented no evidence against the pilots to warrant their extended detention.

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