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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Christmas return home unlikely for French tourists in Brazil plane row

There seems to be little hope that three French citizens detained earlier this month by Brazilian authorities for causing a disturbance on a 'plane, will be home in time for Christmas.

On Monday their families had hoped to have a private audience with the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, but all they managed to do was to hand in a letter asking him to intervene on their behalf.

So what's the story all about and how come two retired French men, Michel Ilinskas aged 61 and Antonio Nascimento aged 64 ans, along with Emilie Camus, a 54-year-old hospital worker from the Parisian suburbs are still in Brazil and being held under house arrest?

Well, what happened to them perhaps needs to be seen in the light of the Air France flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris which crashed into the Atlantic in June killing all 216 passengers and 12 crew members and the fears that has understandably engendered to many taking to the skies.

The three were among a group of French tourists who had been on a two-week cruise and were due to return home from São Paulo on December 6 aboard a flight operated by the Brazilian airline TAM.

Their 'plane was reportedly held on the tarmac for three hours because of a malfunction in the aircraft's computer system.

Explanations from the flight crew as to the cause of the delay were apparently only offered in Portuguese and English, and although Camus, who speaks Portuguese, was able to translate, some passengers, among them the three who were later arrested, panicked and requested to be allowed to disembark and take another flight.

That request was refused and somehow "talk of rebellion" reached the cockpit and the police were called in to detain the "ringleaders" and escort them from the 'plane.

As can be seen from the accompanying amateur video, they weren't exactly treated with kid gloves.

Ilinskas and Nascimento were held on suspicion of being the main "rabble rousers" and Camus, was also arrested accused of having "incited violence" through her translations.

On Monday the families of the three and their supporters rallied outside the Elysée palace in Paris, the official residence of the French president, hoping they would be able to persuade him in person to intervene with Brazilian authorities on their behalf.

But all they managed was to hand in a letter, and they hold little hope of seeing their loved ones before the holiday season starts.

"The only hope I have is an intervention at the highest level," Muriel Ilinskas, the wife of one of those detained, told French news.

"It's a complete nightmare and I don't see an end to it."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well I know which country I will NOT be visiting in a near future, and certainly know which airline NOT to travel with. Appaling!

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