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Paris trial for 2009 plane crash that left 152 dead, one alive

PARIS (AP) – The lone survivor of a 2009 plane crash that killed 152 other people is expected to attend the trial of Yemen’s main airline which opened yesterday in Paris.

At just 12-years-old, Bahia Bakari clung to floating debris from the plane for 11 hours in the Indian Ocean before being rescued. She called it “a miracle”. Now 25, she recently told France 3 television she would attend the trial with both “apprehension” and “relief”.

The trial is needed to “finally know the truth”, said Bakari, who lost her mother in the crash.

The company, Yemenia, has been charged with “manslaughter and unintentional injuries” in the case. It has denied responsibility.

The 2009 Yemenia flight left from Paris before picking up other passengers in the southern French city of Marseille. It made a stopover in Sanaa, Yemen, where 142 passengers and 11 crew members boarded another plane to continue the journey to Moroni, the Comoros capital. During the landing in strong winds, the ageing Airbus A310 crashed about 15 kilometres off the Comorian coast on June 30, 2009.

Yemenia is being tried in Paris over Bakari’s injuries and the deaths of 65 French citizens. The company is facing a fine of up to EUR225,000 (USD237,000). There are 560 plaintiffs in the case.

Most of the passengers onboard were from Comoros.

In 2015, the company was ordered in civil proceedings by two French courts to pay more than EUR30 million (USD31.6 million) to the victims’ families, who deplored the slowness of the procedure between France and the Comoros, a former colony that became independent in 1975.