Man released after questioning over Sala crash

LONDON • A man has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter over the death of Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala, British police confirmed on Wednesday.

The forward, 28, died when a plane carrying him and pilot David Ibbotson came down in the Channel on Jan 21, just days after he had joined Cardiff from Nantes.

Police offered no details as to how the suspect was involved in Sala's death, citing the ongoing investigation, but said he was cooperating with investigators and has been released from custody while the investigation continues.

"As a result of our inquiries we have today (Wednesday, June 19, 2019), arrested a 64-year-old man from the North Yorkshire area on suspicion of manslaughter by an unlawful act," Detective Inspector Simon Huxter of Dorset Police said in a statement.

Huxter urged the media and the public to not speculate over the identity of the arrested individual to avoid prejudicing the probe.

Cardiff had previously stated they were "shocked" at reports that Ibbotson did not have a licence to fly at night. "The club remains deeply concerned that the pilot, and those who arranged the flight, seemingly completely disregarded the rules of flying and put Mr Sala's life in such danger," Cardiff said in a statement in March.

"We believe those who are responsible should be held fully accountable for their actions."

Sala had been the club's record signing after a fee of £15 million (S$25.9 million) was agreed with Nantes during the January window.

After travelling to Cardiff to complete the deal, Sala returned to France to collect belongings and bid farewell to his teammates.

It was on his return to the Welsh capital that the tragedy occurred.

Initial search operations for the player and pilot were suspended.

However, a crowdfunding effort supported by donations, including from football stars such as Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe, helped launch a private search.

That specialised search saw Sala's body recovered from the wreckage in February, but Ibbotson's body has not been found.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, DPA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2019, with the headline 'Man released after questioning over Sala crash'. Print Edition | Subscribe