Chapecoense plane crash: airline chief arrested in Bolivia

Gustavo Vargas Gamboa was once the presidential pilot for Evo Morales among other leaders

Bolivian authorities have arrested the head of Lamia, the carrier that operated the charter aircraft that crashed near Medellín last week killing 71 people, including most of the members of Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team.

Bolivian authorities arresting the head of Lamia airlines.
Bolivian authorities arresting the head of Lamia airlines.EFE
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Detenido en Bolivia el director general de la aerolínea Lamia

Besides Gustavo Vargas Gamboa, there are arrest warrants for five other company employees. Lamia’s headquarters in Santa Cruz, Bolivia were raided by the police.

Authorities have launched an inquiry after it emerged that the aircraft did not have enough fuel to safely cover the Santa Cruz-Medellín route. News reports claim that this was a common practice at Lamia, a small airline that has carried several professional sports teams.

Vargas Gamboa, a retired military official, has worked as the pilot for Bolivian President Evo Morales and several other Bolivian leaders in the past.

A son of the airline director sits on the executive board of aviation body that granted Lamia its operating license

It has since emerged that one of his sons sits on the executive board of the Civil Aviation General Directorship (DGAC), the body that granted Lamia its operating license.

Vargas Gamboa has produced a letter renouncing his job as director general of Lamia, dated three days before the crash. The letter was certified by a notary public, but prosecutors have dismissed the document.

Asylum in Brazil

The arrest comes a day after a Bolivian airport official who was in charge of approving the flight plan fled to Brazil, where she is seeking protection.

Celia Castedo claims that she noted the flight’s risks ahead of departure, but Bolivian authorities say that she invented this story after the crash.

English version by Susana Urra.


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