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Brazilian Judge Convicts U.S. Pilots In Deadly 2006 Crash

A judge convicted two American pilots for their role in a 2006 mid-air collision over the Amazon that killed 154 people.

The AP reports Brazilian federal judge Murilo Mendes sentenced pilots Joseph Lepore of Bay Shore, New York, and Jan Paladino of Westhampton Beach, New York, to community service in the United States.

The judge said the pilots neglected to make sure equipment that transmits their position and altitude was working.

Here's the how the BBC describes how the accident happened:

The passenger plane was on a scheduled flight from Manaus to Rio de Janeiro when it was in a mid-air collision with the executive jet over the state of Mato Grosso.

The US pilots managed to make an emergency landing, and all seven people on board survived.

The passenger plane, a Boeing 737 with 154 passengers and crew, crashed into the Amazon rainforest near Peixoto de Azevedo, killing all on board.

The pilots, reports the BBC, were sentenced in absentia and have not returned to Brazil since the accident. The U.S. found that Brazillian air traffic controllers were likely the cause of the crash and Brazil found it was their controllers and the pilots who caused the crash.

The family of the victims told the BBC the punishment was too mild.

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.