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Cyprus Notes 11th Anniversary of Helios Air Disaster

A memorial service to the 121 people who died in the Helios air disaster 11 years ago was held in Paralimni on Cyprus on Aug. 14.

On Aug. 14 2005, the Helios Boeing 737-300, en route from Larnaca to Prague via Athens, crashed into a mountain, near Grammatiko, north of Athens, and claimed the lives of all 121 people on board, most of them Cypriots going on holiday.

Around 70 people traveled to Athens to attend a service at the site of the crash in Grammatiko where a small church has been built, the Cyprus Mail reported.

On Feb. 2, 2013, a Court of Appeals in Athens convicted three of the four defendants in the Helios air disaster of 2005.

Helios Director Demetris Pantazis, Flight Operations Director Andreas Kikkides and Chief Pilot Ianko Stoimenov were found guilty of manslaughter with conscious negligence, a misdemeanor.

Chief Engineer Alan Irwin, the fourth defendant, who had checked the aircraft before the doomed flight, was found not guilty.

The Athens court found the three executives guilty of allowing the Boeing 737-300 to take off with an unfit replacement crew. The engineer was found guilty of failing to reset a pressure valve, causing both crew and passengers to pass out from lack of oxygen.

The plane flew for hours on automatic pilot before running out of fuel and crashing into a hill near Athens.

The three executives were given the option to buy out their 10-year sentence, paying 73,000 euros ($81,650) to stay out of jail.

In Cyprus, the case, which was before the Nicosia Assize Court, was suspended following the Athens ruling. All charges were dismissed and the defendants acquitted.

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