Bolivia demands Brazil expel flight controller tied to crash probe

Relatives of members of the Chapecoense Real football club team killed in an air crash in Colombia pay tribute to their loved ones, at the stadium in Chapeco, Santa Catarina, southern Brazil on Dec 3, 2016.
Relatives of members of the Chapecoense Real football club team killed in an air crash in Colombia pay tribute to their loved ones, at the stadium in Chapeco, Santa Catarina, southern Brazil on Dec 3, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

LA PAZ (REUTERS) - Bolivia's government on Tuesday (Dec 6) demanded Brazil expel a Bolivian air traffic controller who travelled there to provide authorities information about the crash of a plane in Colombia that killed most members of a Brazilian soccer club.

Bolivian Interior Minister Carlos Romero said Celia Castedo had illegally bypassed migration controls on her way out of the country in an attempt to flee justice. He said Castedo was being sought as part of a broad investigation into Bolivia's air travel authority after the Nov 28 crash.

"There is no argument to justify an asylum request," Romero said. "Logically, in a case like this there should be a process of automatic expulsion (from Brazil)."

Federal prosecutors in Brazil said late on Monday that the woman had come to them in the border city of Corumba after the Bolivian air travel authority accused her of negligence.

Brazilian TV station Globo reported Castedo was seeking asylum in Brazil and that she had questioned a flight plan showing the intended route would push the limits of the plane's maximum possible flight time.

Bolivian authorities on Thursday suspended the license of the tiny charter airline that was bringing the Chapecoense club to the finals of the Copa Sudamericana. The crash killed 71 people and left six others seriously injured.

Bolivia's government has replaced the management of its air travel authority in order to ensure a transparent investigation.

Brazilian prosecutors said they would meet on Wednesday with their Colombian and Bolivian peers to investigate the crash.