NEWS

Co-pilot’s diary found

As forensic experts yesterday identified the body of the German pilot of the Helios flight which crashed 13 days ago north of Athens, sources told Kathimerini that investigators have also found a diary belonging to the co-pilot, which reportedly details problems with the aircraft. The remains of 50-year-old Hans Juergen Merten were identified with the help of DNA testing and dental records as investigators continued to search for traces of three bodies they have yet to recover out of the 121 people killed when the Boeing 737-300 crashed in Grammatiko. Meanwhile, sources told Kathimerini that investigators have also retrieved the diary of co-pilot Pambos Charalambous, who recorded his concerns about technical problems with the plane and friction with the Helios management, according to his family. «My father kept a diary about the problems of the airline and if that gets out the company will close,» his son Yiannis said days after the crash. His family said they had searched their house for the diary but could not find it and surmised that Charalambous must have taken it with him. Sources said the diary was found on Thursday among the personal items that had been collected from the crash site. Police then secretly flew in his widow from Cyprus to confirm the diary belonged to her husband, sources said. The diary has now been handed to the head of the investigation team, Akrivos Tsolakis, and it could provide experts with vital clues as they seek to establish what may have caused the plane to lose pressure before it ran out of fuel and crashed. Meanwhile, Cypriot Transport Minister Haris Thrasou refuted claims by the man in charge of issuing licenses for the Cypriot Civil Aviation Authority, who said none of the island’s aircraft had undergone safety checks in the last 10 months, even though the airlines had paid for them. Thrasou said Charalambos Hadjigeorgiou had given misleading information, since 14 checks had been administered on Cypriot aircraft between January and August this year. But he admitted that flight checks, which are not mandatory, were only done once a year. The minister said Hadjigeorgiou was upset because he wanted locals to replace British experts who advised Cyprus on civil aviation matters. The aviation official accused the minister of lying.