Court orders hearing into 1968 Air France Caravelle crash

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A court in Nice has ordered a hearing into the crash of an Air France passenger aircraft between Nice and Ajaccio 42 years ago, which killed all 95 people on board.

The hearing will take place on 2 May and could lead to the re-opening of a judicial inquiry.

The crash occurred on 11 September 1968 and involved a Sud Aviation Caravelle aircraft operated by Air France which was operating a scheduled flight between Ajaccio, on the island of Corsica, and Nice.

Although the exact cause of the crash has never been determined, some of the victims' relatives maintain it was brought down by a military missile fired during exercises.

In 1972, a government commission concluded that the crash was caused by "a cabin fire, the origin of which is unknown", which led to a fatal loss of control of the aircraft, causing it to crash a few kilometres off the French Mediterranean coast.

However, an association of the victims' families led by two brothers, Louis and Mathieu Paoli, who lost their parents in the crash, has continued to gather evidence on the possible cause of the crash.

The association points to eyewitness accounts and documents which it claims give credence to the view that the Caravelle was brought down by a stray missile during army exercises in the vicinity.

It has led to the filing of legal proceedings with the Nice court against the French army on the grounds of involuntary manslaughter.

The public prosecutor's office had called on the court to declare the association's claims as inadmissible.

The president of the court said the decision to convene the hearing was to establish whether there was a case to answer.

However, the association has hailed the court's decision as an initial victory in its long campaign and says the hearing will allow it to present its case in full.

Air France declines to comment.