Prosecutors in Bolivia have arrested the chief executive officer of LaMia airlines, the owner of the carrier which was carrying 77 people, when the flight ran out of fuel and crashed killing 71 onboard. Nineteen members of the Chapecoense football team, which was headed to Colombia, also died in the crash that occurred on 28 November.
The head of the Bolivia-based charter airline, Gustavo Vargas and two other employees were detained on Tuesday (6 December) as part of investigations into the crash and were taken to a prosecutor's office in Santa Cruz. The trio were interrogated for eight hours.
The doomed flight– LaMia 2933 – was carrying the Brazilian team to Medellin for the first leg of the Sudamericana Cup final against Atletico Nacional. However, the flight ran out of fuel just before reaching its destination and crash-landed.
During investigations it was found that a Bolivian official had sought asylum in Brazil as she received threats for her alleged negligence that led to fatal crash. Celia Castedo has reportedly said that she cautioned pilot Miguel Quiroga before departure that the distance between southern Bolivia and Medellin would push the plane to its maximum possible flight time.
Bolivian Government Minister Carlos Romero has now requested Brazilian officials to send Castedo back for investigations. Romero alleged Castedo had illegally bypassed migration controls on her way out of the country in an effort to escape justice.
"What she has done is very serious. It's a way of escaping the judicial system," Romero said.
He added, "There is no argument to justify an asylum request. Logically, in a case like this there should be a process of automatic expulsion (from Brazil)."
LaMia – which was originally registered in Venezuela before moving its headquarters to Bolivia – had only two out of three flights operational. The company's licence was suspended by Bolivian authorities on 1 December and the management has been replaced to ensure transparent inquiry.
Brazilian authorities are said to meet with their Colombian and Bolivian peers on Wednesday to investigate the crash.