LA PAZ, Bolivia – A Bolivian aviation official who signed off on the flight plan for a chartered aircraft that crashed in the Andes is breaking her silence and accusing her bosses of trying to stage a coverup.
In a letter made public Thursday, Celia Castedo said she didn’t have the authority to stop the doomed flight from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to Medellin, Colombia.
The crash killed 71 people, including members of a Brazilian soccer team heading to the finals of the Copa Sudamericana tournament.
Castedo said that a day after the Nov. 28 crash her superiors pressured her to modify an internal report that she claims details how she warned the airline that the short-range jetliner didn’t have enough fuel to safely make that long a flight.
Bolivian officials have said Castedo has been suspended from her post while she is being investigated for her role in the crash. She has sought asylum in Brazil.
The head of the charter airline was also detained by Bolivian prosecutors for questioning Tuesday as authorities look into whether the tragedy that killed 71 people stemmed from negligence.
Gustavo Vargas, a retired Bolivian air force general, was picked up in Santa Cruz along with a mechanic and secretary who worked for him at LaMia airline. All are being questioned about their roles in letting a British-built short-range jet attempt a more than four-hour flight from Santa Cruz to Medellin, Colombia, for which it barely had enough fuel in violation of aviation norms.