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ISLAMABAD: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) refused to cooperate with a special investigation team looking into the 2012 Bhoja Air crash, Dawn has learnt from officials close to the investigation.

Team members recently returned to Islamabad from Karachi, where they met with senior officials from the CAA’s Directorate Flight Standard, they said, who denied the investigators’ request for a file containing details of Bhoja Air.

DFS is responsible for maintaining files related to airlines’ applications to operate. They also keep records of aircraft fitness, licences issued to airlines and certificates.

Team investigating 2012 plane crash sought file from CAA’s Directorate Flight Standard

Bhoja Air flight B4-213 from Karachi to Islamabad crashed, shortly before landing at Benazir Bhutto International Airport, in the Husainabad village on April 20, 2012, killing all 127 passengers and crew members on board.

A criminal case was registered against various individuals including the owner of Bhoja Air with the Koral police, officials said, and a commission was constituted to investigate the crash under directions from the Islamabad High Court.

The commission’s report held the owners and staff of the airline responsible, along with CAA officials. Another case was registered against those accused in the report, officials said.

A senior officer told Dawn that a four-member team was constituted, under the supervision of a superintendent of police from the investigations wing to look into the incident in light of the commission report. The team had been seeking the Bhoja Air file maintained by the DFS.

The details and documents from the file would help investigators identify those involved in the crash, he said. “Investigators are focusing on the file, which is concrete evidence against those responsible.”

The officer said that when investigators returned from Karachi they told senior officials that they had been denied access to the file and handed the matter over to the Special Investigation Team.

The chairman of the team will serve a notice on the director general of the CAA, asking him to appear before the team and produce the file, he said.

Another officer close to the investigation said that warrants for nine suspects, including the chairman, chief executive, director, managing directors, director north, chief finance officer, marketing director, MIS director, engineering director and operations director of Bhoja Air had already been issued.

Of the total, five have left Pakistan, but the officer said they had been declared proclaimed offenders and efforts to issue their red warrants from Interpol had also been initiated.

Other four have obtained bail and a hearing in this regard was scheduled in Islamabad’s lower courts, he said.

CAA spokesman Aftab Gilani was not available for comments.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2018