Contrary to earlier reports, the repatriation of the Germanwings crash victims will begin on June 9. But a representative for the families says that the initial mix-up had caused an "emotional disaster."
French authorities confirmed that some of the remains of those killed on Germanwings flight 4U9525 on March 24 would be repatriated to Germany next week - as had originally been planned. The airline's parent company Lufthansa said that the relatives of 30 victims would receive the remains of the victims by June 10.
A previous delay on account of a clerical error had caused anger among family members. According to a report by AFP news agency, various mistakes had occurred in the issuing of death certificates, including spelling errors, leading to the documents to lose their validity and expire. After mounting pressure, the death certificates were eventually re-issued.
Elmar Giemulla, a lawyer representing many of the victims' families, welcomed the development, saying that the expedited process would permit burials to take place within the initially intended timeframe.
"For these families a painful and completely needless problem has therefore been solved in good time," Giemulla said.
Giemulla explained that the first burials had already been scheduled for the 16 students from the German town of Haltern, who were flying back from an exchange trip to Spain at the time when the co-pilot deliberately crashed the airliner. But he also said that the initial delay had caused an "emotional disaster" for their families.
The MD11 airplane carrying 30 coffins of victims on board from Marseille is expected to arrive in Düsseldorf on June 9, and the handover is planned for the following day. Bodies of other crash victims will then gradually be returned to their home countries in coming weeks.
Investigators said that they only finished identifying the remains of the150 people aboard the flight in May. Memorial services were held in Cologne and Barcelona in April, attracting various heads-of-state and other dignitaries.
The 27-year-old German co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, who had a history of depression, had locked the pilot out of the cockpit en route from Barcelona to Düsseldorf. Investigators believe that he then intentionally downed the plane in the French Alps. About half of the victims were German.
sbs/kms (AFP, AP, dpa)