Explosives Found on Victims of EgyptAir Crash Prompt Criminal Probe
On Thursday, Egyptian investigators announced that traces of explosives had been found on the remains of victims of the EgyptAir 804 crash, indicating that the plane was taken down deliberately. The evidence has been turned over to a public prosecutor who will start a criminal investigation.
The plane crash in May has long been a mystery. In June, a French ship detected a signal from the plane’s black box, in the Mediterranean Sea north of Egypt. In July, the sound recordings from the box indicated that the plane had gone down in a fire, but it was unclear what caused it. The plane was heading from Paris to Cairo when it went down, killing all 66 passengers on board.
News Alert: Traces of explosives found on EgyptAir victims. pic.twitter.com/lSnDM3yviR
— Fox News (@FoxNews) December 15, 2016
In October 2015, a Russian passenger flight crashed in Egypt, killing 224 people. The Islamic State later took responsibility for the crash, saying it had smuggled explosives on board. But since no terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the fate of flight 804, investigators believed that technical failure was to blame. Also, the cockpit voice recorder revealed that the pilots tried to extinguish a fire aboard and electronic evidence showed that smoke detectors went off in a bathroom. That indicated that there was a slow fire rather than an abrupt explosion.
The relationship between France and Egypt has been tense since the incident, as has the probe. Since the investigating team consists of officials from multiple countries, Egypt and France among others, the operation has been contentious at times. Egyptian officials have not wanted to share information with foreign investigators. And the French investigators don’t agree with the Egyptians’ recent findings, though they “can’t exclude that the plane was brought down intentionally,” an official said to the Wall Street Journal.
While France has wanted the victims’ remains to be returned to their families as soon as possible, Egypt has refused, citing the ongoing investigation. “France expects that the transmission of this report to the Egyptian prosecutor clears the way for the victims’ remains to be returned to their families as quickly as possible,” a spokesman for the French foreign minister said.