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Indonesia jails Garuda pilot over 2007 crash

An Indonesian court has sentenced a Garuda Indonesia pilot to two years imprisonment for his role in an air crash that resulted in 21 deaths.

Marwoto Komar, who has 22 years of flying experience, was arrested in July 2008 after the Boeing 737-400 with 140 passengers that he piloted crashed on landing at Yogyakarta airport in March 2007.

Prosecutors said that he was criminally negligent for the deaths and sought a four-year jail term, but Komar denied the charges and said that he had tried to avoid the accident. The court in Sleman, near Yogyakarta, however disagreed with his defence.

"The defendant was found legitimately and convincingly guilty of negligence," said Sri Andini, the head of a panel of five judges.

Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Commission said in its final report into the accident that the aircraft was far too high and fast on its final approach. Despite ground-proximity warning alerts, a flap deployment of just 5° and calls from the co-pilot for a go-around, the captain did not abandon the approach. The aircraft overran the runway and burst into flames.

The International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations (IFALPA) condemned Komar's arrest, asserting that the investigation failed to address fully the reasons for the crew's actions. It reiterated its stance that the criminalisation of individuals involved in accidents "does little" to improve air transport safety.

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