Swiss to hold trial over 2004 balloon tragedy

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Charges of criminal homicide have been brought over the balloon accident that killed an Indian tourist.

11 April 2008

BERN - Swiss officials said on Thursday that charges of criminal homicide have been brought over a balloon accident that killed an Indian tourist four years ago.

Swiss federal prosecutors have charged one person with negligent homicide, said a spokeswoman for the prosecutors’ office. She declined to identify the person because of Swiss privacy laws. In 2007, prosecutors requested that charges be brought against the balloon's pilot.

One woman was killed when a tethered balloon carrying 23 Indian tourists hit a building during a show ride at the Swiss Transportation Museum in Lucerne. Twelve passengers were injured.

Switzerland's Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau said human failure led to the accident as the balloon should not have been flying because of strong winds.

The museum's authorisation to fly the balloon was withdrawn three days after the accident.

Its director, Daniel Suter, said the museum has requested permission to resume the flights, which used to carry 35,000 passengers a year.
During the 20-minute ride, the balloon rises 140 metres into the air to give passengers a view of the Lake Lucerne area of central Switzerland.

[AP / Expatica]

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