Man goes on trial over plane death of footballer Sala
LONDON, Oct 18, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - A man charged in connection with the death
of Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala in a light aircraft crash in 2019 will
go on trial in Cardiff on Monday.
David Henderson was charged last year for endangering the safety of an
aircraft and attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or
Henderson, who denies the charges, is alleged to have arranged the flight
to bring the former Nantes striker from France to Cardiff, where he was due
to begin training with the Welsh club, which was then in the Premier League.
The plane crashed into the sea near the Channel island of Guernsey, killing
Sala, 28, and pilot David Ibbotson.
At a previous court hearing, it was alleged that Ibbotson was not licensed
to fly an aircraft commercially, and that he was no longer certified to fly
the Piper Malibu aircraft involved.
Sala had become Cardiff's record signing after a fee of œ15 million ($19
million) was agreed with Nantes during the January transfer window.
After travelling to Cardiff to complete the deal, Sala returned to France
to collect belongings and bid farewell to his Nantes teammates.
It was on his return flight to the Welsh capital on January 21, to take
part in his first training session, that the tragedy occurred.
Initial search operations for the player and pilot were suspended in the
days after the single-engine plane went missing.
However, a crowd-funding effort supported by thousands of donations,
including from football stars such as Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe, helped
launch a private search.
That search saw Sala's body recovered from the wreckage in February 2019,
but Ibbotson's body has not been found.
Two months after Sala's body was discovered, his father Horacio Sala died
of a heart attack in Argentina.
British air accident investigators in March 2020 concluded that Ibbotson
was not licensed to fly the plane or to fly at night, and that he lost
control and flew too fast as he tried to avoid bad weather.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch said both the pilot and Sala were
affected by carbon monoxide poisoning before the crash.