Before they were released in December after being detained in Brazil for 71 days following the tragic Sept. 29 crash, the accused American pilots, Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, were required, as a condition of having their passports returned, to sign a n agreement that they would return to Brazil, if summoned for criminal court proceedings. ... Not Congressional hearings.
Now Brazil's Congress has got into the act [apologies to Jimmy Durante, top left, who always complained that everybody wanted inta the act, and to Brazil's own Carmen ("Bananas Is My Business") Miranda, right].
Congress is embarking on hearings on the crash, as well as on the antics of air-traffic controllers who shut down or severely disrupted Brazil's air traffic on numerous occasions after the disaster in what was widely seen as a warning not to send blame for the crash their way. [It was also a protest, the controllers said with some justification, about poor equipment and terrible working conditions at air-traffic control centers].
Now a grandstander on one of the congressional committees is making noises about arresting the pilots to ensure they appear before his committee. And yes, the phrase ending with .. "and whose army?" does come to mind. Excerpts from Friday's Folha Online. Translation, as always, by our indefatigable Sao Paulo bureau chief, Richard Pedicini:
of Folha Online, in Brasilia
The Aerial Blackout CPI has concluded that the pilots of the Legacy jet - which collided with the Gol Boeing last year - should testify before the commission to clarify details of the accident. If they do not, the CPI is considering asking for the arrest of North Americans Jan Paul Paladino and Joseph Lepore.
The vice-president of the CPI, congressman Eduardo Cunha (PMDB-Rio de Janeiro), told the Folha Online that this understanding is based on a document that the two pilots signed on leaving Brazil after having been detained by the Federal Police at the time of the accident. They signed a pledge in which they promised to collaborate with the investigations and to testify whenever they were called to do so.
"They signed a pledge. If they don't keep it, we can ask for the preventive custody of the pair. This pledge [of promise] is grounds for preventive custody if they refuse to testify," he affirmed.
The congressman explained that it is up to the courts, called on by the CPI, to ask for the arrest of the pilots in these circumstances. Cunha has taken a position against the CPI going to the United States with the objective of hearing the pilots.
"They're the ones who are being accused. Why do we have to travel?," he asked. ... "I think it is indispensable that they be heard because they were accused", Cunha affirmed. ..."
As Ms. Miranda used to sing, "Bananas Is My Business!"