American Pilots Can’t Be Made Scapegoats of Brazilian Tragedy, Says Lawyer

In his first appearance as the lawyer for the two American pilots involved in the Boeing accident in the Brazilian jungle that killed 154 people, José Carlos Dias, a former-minister of the Justice, said that his clients were positive that they had not done anything wrong or illegal to cause the accident.

Dias, who was minister of Justice during the Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s administration, has been retained by ExcelAire – the American company that had bought the Brazilian-made Legacy jet that collided with Flight 1907 – to defend the two pilots.

Although the American pilots haven’t been charged with any wrongdoing there have been insinuations that they turned off the Legacy’s transponder making aircraft undetectable to Brazilian air controllers and the Boeing 737 that collided with the smaller plane. Both had their passports taken away by the Brazilian authorities.

The lawyer assured reporters that Joe Lepore and Jan Paladin didn’t turn off any equipment in the plane. To think otherwise, he said, would be an inconsideration to serious and veteran professionals who would never risk this way the life of the passengers they were transporting.

The ex-minister observed that the pilots have their conscience in peace but they also that even though they didn’t cause the accident "they took part in the tragedy."

Dias, however wouldn’t comment on the altitude – 37,000 feet according to several reports while it should be 36,000 feet – the pilots were flying: "The altitude matter is a little controversial. They said they were at the flight plan’s correct altitude and that they tried to communicate with the tower and didn’t get any answer."

The lawyer informed that he had called and talked to Brazilian Justice Minister Márcio Thomaz Bastos, who is an old friend. He also got in touch with Paulo Lacerda, the Federal Police’s chief, and put both pilots at the police’s disposal for any clarification that might be needed.

The Americans have already been interviewed four times by the Brazilian authorities: at the Serra do Cachimbo Air Force base where they landed soon after the accident, by the Mato Grosso state police, and twice in Rio de Janeiro by investigators peering into the disaster’s details.

Lepore and Paladin are staying in Rio de Janeiro, in a secret location. The US Consulate authorities are in touch with them and giving them asistance, according to the Brazilian media.

Dias informed that the American pilots had practice flying the Legacy, but he could not say whether they were inside the plane’s cockpit when the collision occurred. In any case, he said, it ‘s still too early to call anyone guilty.

"It is an inconsideration for any authority to blame anyone at this point. Most especially at this time in which the investigations are not concluded. This would just be looking for a scapegoat," said Dias.

The reporters wanted to know if the pilots had turned off the jet’s transporder, that equipment that is part of the aircraft’s anti-collision system and is also used by the air control to monitor the plane. The former minister denied any wrongdoing by the Yankee pilots: 

"They were flying in a first-rate, brand-new Embraer plane with the president of the company aboard. It’s unconceivable to think they would make any mischief in the air in a flight like this. There is no way they would engage in any kind of exhibitionism," stated the lawyer.


  • Show Comments (12)

  • Guest

    le miserables…….
    look who is talking…CIA child sex rings across america ….I do not know what is worse………..

  • Gary

    What’s more likley? Two professioanl American pilots turning off a transformer on an unfamiliar flight path (insane) or Brazilian Air Traffic Control personel asleep, drunk, or not even at the jobs.

  • Europe

    To bibi !
    yesss you are right…..the 155 victims are the true heroes !!!!!!

    But are the hundreds of children killed VOLUNTARY AND annually by your deaths squads not as heroÀƒ¯c as the plane victims ?
    And are the hundreds of innocents killed KILLED by your police forces not as heroic as the plane victims ?

    I just draw your attention of 2 basic differences :
    – the plane victims died from an INVOLUNTARY accident….either by a failure of Brazilian air traffic controllers or the pilots of the Legacy, but not the heroes and victims I mentionned above….who were VOLUNTARILY……EXECUTED !
    Quite a difference….in my view, may be not in yours !
    – You expect Justice. You are right ! But why do you expect justice ONLY if deaths are due to an involuntary error from foreign citizens (not proven yet)….than voluntary killings from Brazilians and proved ?

    Do your Justice have more time and money to investigate for accidents creating involuntary deaths when and ONLY if deaths are due to foreigners, than when they were done voluntarily by Brazilian themselves ????

    In that sense…..Yess….I reiterate….that Brazilian Justice is a Tropical shit just as their politicians governing the policies of this country !

    And if you disagree….please answer and elaborate to my above question marks !

  • youknow

    Sweetheart I am not investigating this case… I just read about it 😛

    Poor sir, he has not acknowlegded of what happened in Lebanon andwho helped the Israeli government. Maybe it is time to retire regardless your puxa sacos say…:P

    Just get over yor drunkness or even your child obsession that will still ruin you…

  • youknow

    needing help to figure this out…
    Jeff Hitchcock can be contacted at

  • youknow

    Racist white people believe colorblind white people are deluded to think that being white is not important. Alternately fearing the pervasiveness of colorblindness and bemoaning its refusal to acknowledge white culture, racists hope someday colorblind people will believe once again their interest lies in being overtly racist. Racist white people have a more difficult time with race savvy whites who know race does matter and being white makes a difference. Race savvy whites do not shy away from discussing white identity and culture, but they frame their interests in creating multiracial structures, and working for racial equality, justice and harmony. We emphatically endorse the race savvy model. Able to see the racial structure of society as it is, race savvy white people are the racistsˢ۪ worst nightmare.
    Colorblind white people see racist white people pretty much for what they are, and that “something” is not what colorblind white people want to be. But colorblind white people more often than not are ineffective in working to undo the racist model. Unable to see race, they cannot see racism. Blind to color, they are blind to white culture as well. In a racially structured society they are unable to change a structure they fail to see. Rather, they rely on simplistic rules. To be conscious of race, a colorblind person will say, is to be racist. To the colorblind person the racist and the race savvy person seem to be the same. They both see race after all.
    The race savvy white person understands what the colorblind white person does not. Being white makes a difference. Whiteness forms the center of our society and as long as it does, we cannot have a society centered on multiracial values. The irony of colorblindness is that by not seeing whiteness, it keeps whiteness centered. In this the racists might find some small ray of hope.
    Race savvy white people are determined not to let that happen. There is and should always be a place for white people in our society, but it should not be one that controls power and resources of the mainstream exclusive of other racial groups. It should not be a place where others are expected, indeed required to come if they want the privileges of the center. Race savvy white people believe we all must change to create a multiracial center. Race savvy white people understand itˢ۪s our special role to work with our own people to bring this about.
    We ask you once again, what kind of white person are you? Your choices may be a little broader than you imagine.


  • youknow

    Just find yourself here, if your not in the boteco right now
    People of color may rightly excuse themselves from answering this question. Obviously itˢ۪s intended for white folks. When it comes to how one thinks and feels about race relations, most white people believe there are two choices. Either youˢ۪re racist or youˢ۪re colorblind. Individuals did not create these choices. Nor did organizations like the Center, or even larger organizations like the government. These choices exist as part of our culture itself. Society provides us two models of how to be white.
    There are many ways to define a “racist.” Some would say society itself is racist, giving all white people racial privileges and hence making them “racists” whether they like it or not. But most white people use the term racist, at least insofar as it applies to white people, to mean a person who consciously identifies as white, understands it to be his or her native culture, and believes that white people are superior to people of color. According to these terms, nearly all white people used to be racist, and even today itÀ¢€™s hardly uncommon to find white people who still are.
    The second model for white people is colorblindness. Colorblindness says that race shouldnˢ۪t make a difference in peopleˢ۪s lives, and since it shouldnˢ۪t, we should all act as if race doesnˢ۪t matter. Because race doesnˢ۪t matter (or at least shouldnˢ۪t matter), we donˢ۪t need to mention it at all. In fact mentioning race just creates problems. Thus white people who follow the colorblind model do not particularly see themselves as white in other than a superficial way. They know which box to check on census forms, but do not believe the status of being white has an effect on their lives. If racists are racially conscious, colorblind people might be said to be racially unconscious.
    Racist or colorblind. Most of us are taught one or the other. Mainstream society certainly favors the colorblind side. Conventional wisdom says to be colorblind is good. To be racist is bad. Were those the only two choices, then we might agree. But thereˢ۪s a third choice at hand.
    ItÀ¢€™s not a choice that many white people make, or even know exists. White people can consciously identify as white, understand it to be our native culture, and believe À¢€“ and here is the crux of the matter — that while white people are no better or worse than people of color at heart, we hold an unjustly privileged and dominant position in a racial hierarchy. This model is new, only about 40 years old, compared to 100 years for colorblindness and 400 years for plain old fashioned racism. ItÀ¢€™s so new, people havenÀ¢€™t agreed on a name for it. Variously called color awareness, race savvy, or new white consciousness, it nonetheless is a real alternative to the older models.

  • a guesty

    My dear sir

    You are a quintessential snapshot as to why many fear the Brazilian investigations into this horrible disaster. In one post, you not only called Americans ignorant, but you managed to throw in a jab at Bush, the American Media and as well fell back to the usual assortment of anti-American hyperbole by including Lebanon and Palestine into your obtusely thrown together tirade. Although bringing up Lebanon is a bit of a stretch; I do expect that from simpletons who get their historical and geopolitical knowledge from drunken conversations in botecos.

    This disaster needs to be investigated rigorously and thoroughly (this is not a notable trait for Brazilians), and not by blinded numbnuts such as yourself where your frothing-at-the-mouth anti-American rage blinds you to the point where you conclusions are no longer objective or rational.

    Sadly, the Brazilian Military, the Brazilian police and the Brazilian courts are full of individuals JUST LIKE YOU, and they are dying to get their talons into any American just to feel good about themselves. That was the basis of the article if you read between the lines. No one knows the reality better, than an ex minister of Justice.

    À¢€ÂMaybe if they flip a 20 on my face they can change my mind?À¢€Â

    IÀ¢€™m sure a fiver would doÀ¢€¦.

  • youknow

    Dear Sir,

    Just as what you’ve said, being society a collectivity we Brazilians do not stand to be offended by ignorant Americans and society who take others and everything for granted. Yes, unless these individuals realize we are not rats and that we deserve to be treated as well as other nationalities with proper respect, no matter our failures as societies, you as a society will always be remembered by your inappropriate behavior toward us. The aircraft accident is beyond nationalities until it comes to the penalty moment when the people involved are non-brazilians as you see. If this same situation had happened with Indians or Chinese pilots, or any other nationality, I know exactly what it would be brazil’s reactions, which is collect the facts. No press filter even if this was a local accident. This would be loudly broadcasted worldwide. But americans… they filter everything for the entire world as much as they can, and react as victims of the oddest and dangerous animals. You know this is a damn plain complex of persecution. What amazes, or not, are the citizens. Tell me about Foley’s, the right of the right of the right? i don’t really know, and Bush’s respectfulness for the institutions, they can give us all speeches over this subject I guess!

    Whatever lawyers and former ministers can do in this case, people is not stupid and know exactly what is going on. All these suckers care about is their asses! And money, sure! No news on that I suppose…Maybe if they flip a 20 on my face they can change my mind?

    I suspected americans had no biased views even after hearing NBC CBS and reading new york times and brazzilmag…dÀƒ£h!

    I don’t think Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq or being an immigrant in the states and the American well-known ignorance and preconception are a mere football dispute, if you know what I mean.

    I hope this writing scribbles can be deciphered : p

    Btw I didnˢ۪t notice a glimpse of sadness on American TV or American fanatics here!

  • Dennis J Farquharson

    We all suffer from our own limitations and foyables and those of others. Individual professionals, like pilots, whether Brazilian or American must stand behind their performance. Collectively as societies we owe individuals credible institutions and rules that can sort out such matters with fairness.

    I suspect most Americans, myself included had no “view” about the circumstances of air travel over the Amazon. As I watch this situation unfold I am unfortunately developing a view. It is scarry to me that the prosecutors have gotten so far ahead of the investigation and the public and the media as well. I have tried to read reports in the US news as reported in Brazil and find the discrepancies shocking. In this era of globalization it is counterproductive and dangerous to look at every event through the lense of nationalism. This was a horrible tragedy that people everywhere are saddened by. Lessons need to be learned. There needs to be consequences for any negligence of individuals involved.

    It is repugnant to treat this situation like a futball game between Brasil and Argentina.

  • Leandro Rosa

    what is Brazil for you ?
    Well, at first I would like to say that foreign people usually have a different “view” of Brazil, then it leads me to think that the pilots might have thought Amazon as a “free area” where the Legacy Jet could not be reached by the brazilian’s detectable air controllers. They said themselves we do not have an efficient air controling system in BRazil, and it was proved we do have!
    However, I think you americans -who have just read this article – should think twice before criticizing, and take the evidences and proffs in count, before taking any conclusion.

  • Hmmm

    Yes, let the facts come out. Remember, until yesterday the death toll was 155 and now it is 154. A passenger list should have been about the easiest of all FACTS to sort through and present Рit wasnˢ۪t. A simply list of all who were onboard was incorrect for the better part of a week.

    The actual cause of the collision will prove a much more daunting task for specialists to ferret out. Let them do their jobs.

    If after all the facts have been weighed out and there is a consensus that the pilots were at fault through negligence, then they must answer to the courts. If anyone else, including those working air traffic control, was negligent in their duties then the same should apply.

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