British justice opened proceedings on Tuesday to establish responsibility for the plane crash that claimed the lives of Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala and his pilot David Ibbotson in January 2019.
The small private plane on board which were the 28-year-old player and the pilot had crashed in the English Channel, while the FC Nantes striker was joining Cardiff where he had just been transferred for 17 million euros.
The body of the player, whose disappearance had moved the world of football, had been found in the carcass of the device, more than two weeks after the accident, 67 meters deep. The body of the 59-year-old pilot has not been found.
David Henderson, 67, who organized the flight, was sentenced in mid-November to 18 months in prison for hiring a pilot he knew was unqualified and for carrying a passenger without valid authorization.
The court in Dorset (south of England) will hold hearings for about five weeks to try to establish the circumstances of the accident and possible responsibilities.
On Tuesday, the court and the jury heard the reading of a written testimony from Sala’s mother, Mercedes Taffarel, in which she notably returned to the hasty transfer of her son at the end of the winter transfer window.
“Nantes was pushing for his departure from the club”
“It’s true that Emi was very happy when he finally accepted the idea of the transfer because it gave him the chance to play in the Premier League. He thought the time had come to change clubs and leagues,” she explained.
But « it seemed to her that the management (of the club) of Nantes was also pushing for her departure from the club because she had financial problems, » she continued.
On the evening of the flight, having heard nothing from her son, she thought he had gone to bed early, before learning the next day of the disappearance of the aircraft.
“We ask for justice to be done”
According to the British Air Accidents Investigation Bureau’s final report, published in March 2020, the pilot was « probably » poisoned with carbon monoxide from the engine exhaust system.
He would have lost control of the aircraft during a maneuver carried out at too high a speed before the plane crashed into the sea at a speed of 270 miles per hour (435 km / h), leaving no hope of survival .
“No one can bring Emi back to us (…) Our grief will never go away and it will always be with us. All we ask is that justice be done and that no detail be overlooked to establish what happened,” she wrote in court.