After Apartment Search, German Investigators Say Co-Pilot Hid An Illness

Mar 27, 2015
Originally published on March 28, 2015 11:06 am
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Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The co-pilot who is said to have deliberately crashed a German airliner this week appears to have hidden medical treatments from his employer. All 150 people on that Germanwings flight died. Coming up, a German pilot who questions how the investigation is being handled. But first, the discovery of doctor's notes and medical records that became the focus today for prosecutors and for the media. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley sent this report from Paris.

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UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: (Speaking French).

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: This French newscaster talks of the latest horrible development in the Germanwings investigation. That co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, may been on doctor's orders not to go to work on the day he's accused of deliberately taking down an Airbus A320. Today, Dusseldorf prosecutor Christoph Kumpa, who's leading the investigation into Lubitz, described what they found in the co-pilot's apartment.

CHRISTOPH KUMPA: (Through interpreter) We didn't find a suicide note or any evidence to suggest his actions were motivated by political or religious beliefs. We found medical documents detailing an existing condition and treatment. We found torn-up sick notes excusing him from work, including for the day of the crash.

BEARDSLEY: The prosecutor has not revealed what kind of medical condition Lubitz was being treated for. Kumpa says the evidence points to Lubitz hiding his illness from Lufthansa. Investigators and the media are trying to find out why Lubitz took a month's-long break from pilot training in 2009. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr was asked about it during a press conference Wednesday after the cockpit voice recordings were made public.

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CARSTEN SPOHR: (Through interpreter) Well, in Germany there's medical secrecy. And even where I'm concerned, as an employer, I would not be able to know what the cause is if it is a medical cause and therefore protected by medical secrecy.

BEARDSLEY: The debate is now revolving around how far medical confidentiality should go and what responsibility doctors have in signaling a potentially dangerous patient. Commentators are also asking if it was possible that no one at Lufthansa, where Lubitz was also trained, ever suspected anything.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: Meanwhile, television pictures show emergency workers continuing their painstaking search on a remote mountainside. The second black box has not yet been found, and authorities say it will take many more days to collect all of the victims' remains for DNA testing. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.