AirBaltic pilot sentenced to 10 months in prison

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UPDATED: Prosecutors asked a court in Romerike, northeast of Oslo, to sentence an airBaltic pilot to a year in prison. He wound up with a 10 month jail term when the court delivered a verdict on Monday.

The Latvian pilot had shown up at Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen in August intending to fly a planeload of tourists to Crete, even though he and three other crew members were legally drunk.

The pilot for Latvia’s largest airline was back in court late last week, a month after his first officer was sentenced to six months in jail. The co-pilot admitted to drinking heavily but has appealed, claiming his six-month term was too harsh. Two flight attendants were also sentenced to jail, for 45 and 60 days.

The captain and his crew had all admitted to partying the night before their early morning flight to Crete. Prosecutor Camilla Ek Sørensen said in closing arguments Friday that since the pilot was in charge of the crew, knew they’d been drinking and had done so himself, he faced the heaviest burden of responsibility. There is no doubt, Sørensen told the court, that he intended to run the flight from Oslo to Crete when he was stopped by police, subjected to alcohol testing and arrested.

The court agreed and found the man guilty on all three counts in the indictment against him — for being intoxicated on the job (he had a blood alcohol level of 0.54), for drinking less than eight hours before he went on duty, and for failing to fulfill his duty as captain. The court trimmed his sentence by two months.

The pilot’s defense attorney argued that a sentence of three to four months was sufficient and her client also denied guilt on two of the three counts. An appeal was pending. The pilot has remained in custody in Norway since the crew’s arrest on August 8. staff