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14 July, 2024
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Helios Airways crash remembrance: 18 years on, victims honored

Families continue to seek closure remembering their loved ones lost in the crash

Newsroom / CNA

Eighteen years have passed since the crash on August 14, 2005 of an aircraft of Helios Airways, in the mountainous area of Grammatiko in Attica, Greece, resulting to the death of 121 people, including 22 children and the six-member crew. The majority of victims, 103, were Cypriots and 12 were from Greece.

A memorial service for the 121 victims of the tragedy was to be held on Monday morning in Grammatiko, in the chapel of the Dormition of Virgin Mary, erected in memory of the victims.

Niki Michaelidou, on behalf of the relatives of the victims, told CNA that after the memorial, the relatives would go to the top of the mountain, where the plane crashed on August 14, 2005 for a memorial prayer.

The aircraft, a Boeing 737-300, departed in the morning of August 14, 2005 from Larnaca airport to Prague via Athens. At 10.15 am the aircraft entered the National Airspace of Athens, but without making any contact with the Control Tower.

At 11:05, two F-16 fighters took off from Nea Aghialos Air Base, which made visual contact with the plane at 11:18 and found that the co-pilot of the aircraft was unconscious, the captain was not in his position while the plane’s oxygen masks system had been activated.

As evidenced by the investigations, the aircraft was flying on automatic pilot with all passengers unconscious except one flight attendant, Andreas Prodromou, who was trying to take control of the airplane. At 12.05 the aircraft crashed in the mountainous region of Grammatiko, killing the 115 passengers and six-member crew.

On February 18, 2013, the Nicosia Criminal Court acquitted of all charges all the defendants in the case, following the stay of the criminal prosecution the Attorney General's Office had filed against all the accused, natural persons, and Helios airlines.

The accused were Helios’ Executive Chairman, Andreas Drakos, the company’s Managing Director, Demetris Pantazis, Director of Flight Operations, Giorgos Kikkides, as well chief pilot of the company, Janko Stoimenof.

The Court of Appeal of Athens had upheld the conviction imposed by the first instance court, the three-member Misdemeanor Court of Athens, with its decision of February 7, 2013. The sentence, 122 years in prison for each defendant, was changed to a ten-year sentence and subsequently to a fine. After paying approximately €73,000, they were released.

Based on the principle that no one is tried by two countries for the same crime, it was expected that they would be removed from the Cypriot indictment. The Attorney General ruled that the prosecution should be stayed for all the accused citing insurmountable difficulties in pursuing the case.

Cyprus  |  Helios  |  aviation  |  flight  |  deaths

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