Eithne Walls, who would have turned 40 last year, was among 228 people from 32 countries lost on the Rio de Janiero-Paris flight in its crash in the Atlantic on June 1 almost 13 years ago.
The Ballygowan woman was returning from vacation with friends and fellow doctors, Jane Deasy from Dublin and Aisling Butler from Roscrea, Co Tipperary, when tragedy struck.
Sadly, 28-year-old Eithne and Aisling’s remains have never been found.
Following a series of legal challenges, it has now emerged that a Paris court has ruled that the airline and aircraft manufacturer Airbus should be tried for manslaughter.
The BBC reports that it overturned a ruling two years ago and backed prosecutors’ recommendations that charges should be laid.
An investigation into the incident revealed that the pilots lost control of the aircraft when its air speed sensors froze.
The families of the passengers and crew have since campaigned for a lawsuit.
The magistrates had initially charged AF and Airbus, but the Paris prosecutor said only Air France should be tried.
Charges were later dropped against the two in 2019, but following subsequent legal proceedings, Paris appeals courts ruled on Wednesday that the two should stand trial.
An Airbus spokesperson told Belfast Live: “The court ruling which has just been announced does not in any way reflect the findings of the investigation which led to the dismissal of the case in favor of Airbus.
“We can confirm that we have decided to appeal.”
It is understood that Air France will also appeal the decision.
We were unable to reach them for comment.
They declared on their website: “Air France employees mobilized from the start to help those who had lost a loved one. Air France has done everything for those close to them and understands that individual cases can bring particular difficulties.
“Since the accident, Air France has regularly organized private ceremonies to honor the memory of the victims of flight AF 447, in Rio and in Paris. “
Danièle Lamy, head of the support group for the families of victims, said: “It is extremely satisfying to finally feel heard by the courts.
“We just regret that it took 12 long years to get here – 12 years of unwavering determination, filled with uncertainty, frustrating and obscure procedures and discouragement, but we never gave in.
A fund set up in Eithne’s name continued to raise thousands of dollars for the Dublin hospital where she worked.
With each devastating year since her death, her friends and family mark what would have been remarkable life milestones on their Celebration of Eithne Walls tribute Facebook page.
Her sister Kathryn said in December: “Thinking of my sister-in-law Eithne on what would have been her 40th birthday. The clouds have cleared and the sun is shining on her and mom as they celebrate together in Heaven x ”
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