Brazil’s Superior Court of Justice (STJ) decided to maintain the sentence of three years and one month of jail in open regime for US pilots Joseph Lepore and Jan Paul Paladino. They were convicted of causing a crash between a Legacy Jet and a Boeing 737 operated by Brazil’s Gol Airlines in 2006, leaving 154 people dead.
The court turned down a petition by the Federal Public Prosecution (MPF) to lengthen the sentence imposed on the two convicts based on the number of victims. It has also rejected the MPF petition for preventive detention of the two pilots, who live in the United States.
A lower court had already reduced the condemnation of the American pilots, determined by the Federal Court of Mato Grosso, which initially was of four years and four months in prison for manslaughter.
While federal prosecutors asked the Supreme Court to increase the penalty for Americans, the Defense wanted a reduction and replacement of jail time by a sentence restricting the pilots rights.
Antonio Augusto Aras, the Assistant Attorney General of the Republic, argued that the sentence should be increased due to the violation of technical rules of piloting that ended up causing all the deaths of the Boeing.
The assistant prosecutor and the attorney for the Association of Relatives and Victims of the Accident, former Supreme Court Justice Nilson Naves, also defended an increase in the penalty, reminding that the pilots had caused the second largest plane crash in Brazil’s history.
The minister rapporteur, Laurita Vaz, decided to deny the appeals from the defense and the prosecution, According to Vaz, the penalty applied by the Federal Court of Appeal cannot be considered unreasonable.
The pilots’ lawyer, Theodomiro Dias, criticized what he called “contradiction” in the position of the rapporteur. In December 2013, Vaz had asked that the sentence be reduced to two years and four months of detention.
The Ministers of the Supreme criticized Brazil’s penal legislation, but informed that the penalty could not be increased due to the number of deaths because this fact has already been taken into consideration in earlier phases of the proceeding.
Lepore and Paladino live in the United States. They were detained for some time in Brazil, but traveled back to their country in December 2006, the year of the accident. Despite their promise to go back to Brazil to submit themselves to the Brazilian authorities they have refused to do this.