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Trial into Concorde disaster wraps up

The defence lawyer for Continental Airlines challenged the court's experts, the prosecutor, the judge and the plaintiff - Air France - yesterday as a French court wrapped up a trial into the crash of a Concorde supersonic jet 10 years ago.

Olivier Metzner claimed the court's independent experts were “paid by Air France” and were “laughed at” by aviation specialists.

Mr Metzner also questioned the prosecutor's intellectual aptitude and accused Air France, the partially state-owned French national carrier which operated the crashed jet, of being overbearing during the trial.

Houston-based Continental and two of its employees are accused of manslaughter in the June 2000 Concorde crash, which happened just after the plane took off from Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport.

It killed 109 people on board and four people on the ground and devastated the reputation of the Concorde, which could fly at twice the speed of sound.

The court said it would make its ruling in December.

The four-month trial in the Paris suburb of Pontoise has focused on investigators' reports that a Continental jet dropped a metal strip on to the runway before the Concorde took off. The prosecution says the debris gashed one of the Concorde's tyres, sending pieces of rubber into the fuel tanks and sparking a fire.

Continental denies any responsibility, saying fire broke out on the Concorde before the plane reached the debris on the runway. The trial's main goal is to assign responsibility as most of the victims' families received settlements years ago.

Belfast Telegraph