Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, the two American pilots who have been retained in Brazil since the Legacy executive jet they piloted collided with a Boeing 737, which fell down in the Brazilian Amazon on September 29 killing all 154 people aboard, can get their passports back.
In a unanimous decision, the Regional Federal Court of the First Region, in Brasília, decided, today that there’s no reason for the Brazilian Justice to keep the Americans passports, which were confiscated in Rio, at the beginning of October.
The pilots have been in virtual house arrest in a hotel in Rio since. The judicial decision requires that the documents be returned to the US pilots in 72 hours.
Federal chief judge Fernando Tourinho, federal judge Jamil Oliveira and the reporter and president of the session, Cândido Ribeiro, voted for the habeas corpus concession.
The documents had been seized by determination of Mato Grosso state’s federal police’s while authorities investigated the causes of Brazil’s worst air accident ever.
The Regional Federal Court believes that 72 hours are more than enough time for the Federal Police to still interview the pilots if they so wish.
While the two pilots are free to leave Brazil they must agree to go back to the country for further inquiry and judicial action if they are asked to by the Brazilian authorities.