Colombia plane crash: Second suspect arrested, to be held until trial

Bolivia Dec 10, 2016, 05.37 PM(IST)

Gustavo Vargas Villegas of the DGAC is arrested by police officers, following last month's crash of charter airline LaMia into the Colombian jungle that killed players from the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense. Photograph:( Reuters )

Bolivian authorities have jailed the second suspect accused of wrongdoing in the air crash that wiped out Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team last month, prosecutors said on Saturday (December 10).

Gustavo Vargas Villegas, a former official with Bolivia's aviation authority was arrested and will be held until trial on charges that he misused his influence in authorizing the license of the Bolivian plane that crashed in Colombia while taking the team to Medellin for the Copa Sudamericana.

His father, Gustavo Vargas Gamboa, former chief executive of the LaMia charter airline company, was jailed Thursday pending trial on charges including manslaughter over the November 28 crash.

Both have said they are innocent.

"It has also been shown that there existed certain risks for which it was necessary to keep the accused in custody," judge Claudia Castro said early Saturday morning.

The accident killed 71 people after the plane apparently ran out of fuel, shocking the global soccer community and sparking questions about why the aircraft would have tried to make the international flight with what looks to have been less than the required amount of fuel in its tanks.

Officials from Bolivia's civil aeronautics agency, DGAC, and the Administration of Airports and Auxiliary Services for Air Navigation, AASANA, have been questioned in the ongoing investigation which is also looking in other airlines operating in the country.

Bolivia will also temporarily ground the Bolivian Air Force owned Transporte Aereo Militar (Military Air Transport), or TAM airline from servicing commercial flights starting on December 16 until it can be brought up to regulation.

"The idea is to continue operations for almost a week, until December 16, so that Military Air Transport (TAM) firms up and can make the step to the commercial realm, which means civil aviation," Bolivia's minister of public works, Milton Carlos said.

LaMia's air license was suspended last week.