World

Brazil court acquits 3 in trial of 2007 plane crash in Sao Paulo that killed 199 people

A Brazilian court has cleared three people of responsibility for a 2007 jetliner crash that killed 199 people at a Sao Paulo airport.

In a sentence that was handed down last week and made available Monday, federal judge Marcio Assad Guardi in Sao Paulo acquitted the former director of Brazil's National Civil Aviation Agency, TAM Airlines' former vice president of operations and TAM's former safety director. They had been charged with endangering air transportation safety.

The federal prosecutors' office in Sao Paulo said prosecutors planned to appeal the verdict.

The cash involved a deadly accident on July 17, 2007, at Sao Paulo's Congonhas airport. A TAM Airbus A320 landed in driving rain, sped down the runway and crashed into a gas station and air cargo building at 110 mph (175 kph). All 187 people aboard and 12 people on the ground died.

The prosecutor's office argued the three defendants were to blame for allowing use of a runway that was unsafe due to a faulty drainage system. Twenty days before the accident, the recently repaved runway was authorized for use despite lacking the grooves that allow water to drain off the pavement and provide increased grip.

Prosecutors said the head of the civil aviation agency, Denise Abreu, acted imprudently by authorizing use of the grooveless runway. The two TAM directors, Alberto Fajerman and Marco Aurelio dos Santos de Miranda e Castro, were blamed for allowing the company's aircraft to land at Congonhas despite knowing of the runaway's lack of grooves.